One of the strengths of the New England Patriots’ 2018 championship team was their offensive line: the group of Trent Brown, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon was very good during the regular season before stepping up its game for the playoffs. And despite Brown leaving via free agency, the group again projects to be among the NFL’s best entering the 2019 season.
Apparently, the rest of the AFC East agrees and is now gearing up to counter this development through the draft: the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins all picked defensive tackles in the first round earlier today to put pressure on New England’s interior line — consisting of Thuney, Andrews and Mason — and inside run game.
It all started when New York selected Alabama’s Quinnen Williams at number three overall. Six selections later, with the ninth pick, Buffalo added Ed Oliver out of Houston. Four picks after that, the Miami Dolphins went to Clemson and came away with Christian Wilkins. As a result, three of the best interior defenders in the draft are now all coming to the Patriots’ division.
Of course, New England has shown in the past that it is capable of neutralizing talent on opposing defensive lines — look no further than Super Bowl 53, when defensive league MVP Aaron Donald and running mate Ndamukong Suh were both effectively held in check. New England and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia need consistent repeat performances next year against the talent that came to the AFC East today.