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Grading the Patriots selection of Yodny Cajuste and his fit with the Patriots offense

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The Patriots find a quality OT value at the end of the 3rd round

NCAA Football: Tennessee at West Virginia Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots have had a glaring hole at the LT position over the long term since Nate Solder left for the New York Giants. Last year the Patriots added Trent Brown as a 1-year band-aid while hoping that 1st round pick Isaiah Wynn would develop into a starter to replace him. That did not materialize, or at least not as intended when Wynn ruptured his Achilles tendon blocking now teammate Michael Bennett in a preseason game. Even if the Patriots believe Wynn will end up assuming the LT starter role, the team could still afford to go with a guy who can be a swing tackle now and eventual starter at RT with Marcus Cannon now on the wrong side of 30.

Strengths:

  • Ideal size and length for the position, although he can afford to bulk up a bit from 312
  • Fires out of his stance well
  • Has ideal feet for pass pro on the edge
  • Diagnoses stunts fairly well
  • Always looking for the next block when climbing into
  • 2 12 years starting experience at LT

Weaknesses:

  • Has balance issues in pass pro
  • At times will struggle to sustain and finish blocks in the run game
  • Hand placement is somewhat of a concern, could lead to holding penalties if not corrected

Rookie Year Projection

I think it’s pretty clear the Patriots view Wynn as a starter since they waited until the 3rd round to address the tackle position and took on an athletic, but raw tackle prospect. Cajuste probably needs a year to develop with OL coaching guru Dante Scarnecchia. His issues are mostly technique-based, so give him a year to develop his run blocking and pass pro techniques with the occasional jumbo TE snaps at the goal line and short-yardage to give him NFL reps as a rookie.

Long Term Projection

Assuming Wynn holds down the LT spot, Cajuste could take over at RT next year for the aging Cannon. Barring injuries, Cajuste could lock down the position for 2020-2022 and continue to solidify a strong Patriots OL. Once the technique improves and Cajuste is more consistent with the better technique, he’s ready to go in terms of starting.

How Many Downs Can He Impact: 1st-3rd

Pick Grade: A

I love the pick for both need and value. Cajuste was a fringe 2nd round prospect in my book due to the strong athletic build and flaws that are correctable with good coaching. This gives Scar another moldable and athletic offensive lineman that he will coach up into a quality starter down the road.