Ever since losing starting left tackle Nate Solder to the New York Giants via free agency, the New England Patriots were in need of a new blindside protector for Tom Brady. Whether they found one in Georgia's Isaiah Wynn, who has experience playing at both tackle and guard, remains to be seen. What we do know, however, is that the 23rd overall selection of this year's draft has immense talent and natural abilities.
Let's take a closer look at him to find out how he fits on the Patriots using the same parameters we have already used in pre-draft scouting reports.
Name: Isaiah Wynn
Position: Offensive tackle/guard
2017 stats: 15 games (15 starts), 5 pressures surrendered
Size: 6023, 313 lbs, 33 3/8 arm length, 8 1/2 hand size
Combine/pro day numbers: Unable to participate in drills due to injury
Round: 1st (pick #23)
Strengths: What stands out about Wynn is his excellent, pro-ready technique in both run blocking and pass protection, and how he uses it to be successful despite his comparative height-deficiencies. Wynn has some very good footwork and is a light and nimble mover, which in turn helps him mirror his opponents and counter any quick-cut or spin moves. This also allows him to be highly effective as a pull and second-level blocker.
In general, Wynn is an impressive player when in space. He has the moving abilities to serve as a lead blocker and the vision to identify and engage his targets. His eyes and play recognition are all worthy of first-round selection: Wynn hardly every gets fooled by stunts or other movements up front and reacts patiently when needed to do so. He does not panic and instead trusts his outstanding technique to win one-on-ones.
A big part of this is his textbook hand work: Wynn, who has disproportionally long arms for his overall height, is able to position his hands well within his opponent's frame to engage and keep at him. The Georgia product also plays with a very good anchor, and displays sound balance no matter the size of his opponents. All in all, he rarely gets pushed back and instead is able to reestablish – if need be – a steady base and keep his feet moving.
Furthermore, his experience and versatility also can be considered a plus: Wynn has played plenty of snaps at both tackle and guard and likely will be inserted into the Patriots' line-up from day one to serve as a starter no matter the position (it will most likely be at left tackle, though). New England, according to Nick Caserio, is looking for the top five guys to line up – Wynn will be one of them.
Weaknesses: There is little not to like about Wynn and his game. The most obvious choice, of course, is his less-than-prototypical height. At a bit over 6'2, he is noticeably shorter than other NFL-caliber tackles and therefore might be better suited to move back to the inside to play at guard. Another minor weakness is the fact that Wynn is coming off offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
As to his tape, it offers little flaws. While he is a bit inconsistent at times when it comes to initial push and needs to work on his overall strength, Wynn has a great foundation to work with and should find immediate success at the next level.
What will be his role? As noted above, Wynn is able to be a day-one starter at either left tackle or left guard for the Patriots. Considering the current roster composition, however, it appears more likely that he will start his pro career primarily at the left tackle spot.
How many downs will he play? Four-ish. As a starting offensive lineman, Wynn will be on the field for almost every snap no matter which spot he ultimately ends up occupying. As such, he should be expected to play more than 95% of offensive snaps while also being used on special teams regularly.
What is his special teams value? The Patriots employed former starting left tackle Nate Solder as a left-side blocker on field goals and extra point attempts and it would not be a surprise to see the Patriots do the same with Wynn. He will therefore be on the field for around 20% of the team's special teams snaps.
Does he have positional versatility? Yes. While Wynn has been outstanding as a left tackle last season, he was equally impressive as a left guard the years before that. One scout from the NFC even suggested that Wynn might be used at center. In short: He is a plug-and-play lineman no matter the position.
Will his role change from year 1 to year 2? Unless the Patriots opt to go with a more experienced option at left tackle (or maybe left guard), Wynn should start immediately: He has all the tools to find success at the next level and has as pro-ready a technique as you will find in a rookie.
Which current Patriots will he have to beat out? At the tackle spot, his main competition for practice reps and playing time will be last year's number four LaAdrian Waddle and former third-round draft pick Antonio Garcia. Third-year starter Joe Thuney would be the man to beat out at left guard, but as noted above it appears more likely that Wynn will be used at tackle.
Why the Patriots? With Solder gone, the Patriots were in need of a new high-quality option at left tackle. Wynn projects to be just that, which is why the team invested in him with the 23rd overall pick last week – an investment that should pay dividends as early as this season. After all, the 21-year old has the tools to be a day-one starter and comes with a very mature technique that will only need a little fine-tuning at the next level.
Furthermore, Wynn should also be a nice addition to the Patriots' locker room: A generally reliable player that missed only one college game due to injury (in 2016; he was able to play through the shoulder injury he suffered in November 2017), he was voted one of only four permanent team captains for the Bulldogs last season.
Verdict: The Patriots surprised many when they selected Wynn in round one. However, it is a classic New England investment in a player with high upside that still has the potential to have an immediate impact and fills an obvious need. All in all, drafting Wynn should turn out to be a good decision made by the Patriots.