Not even two months removed from losing long-time starting left tackle Nate Solder in free agency, the New England Patriots drafted his potential successor in the first round: the team invested the 23rd overall selection in the 2018 draft in an undersized, versatile, and largely productive player out of the University of Georgia. Isaiah Wynn became the third offensive tackle to hear his name called that day.
Wynn’s career in New England did not start as Solder’s replacement, though, but instead as a swing backup who saw most of his in-practice action on the right side of the line in place of a recovering Marcus Cannon. With Trent Brown holding down the fort where Solder used to play, the expectation was that Wynn would enter the year as the top swing backup and third option at the position.
Then came preseason. Just nine snaps into his NFL debut, Wynn tore his Achilles tendon and saw his rookie campaign come to a premature end. Almost one year later, he is still not fully participating in the Patriots’ training camp sessions — but he is getting there: the plan, after all, is for him to be ready when the reigning world champions open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 8.
And despite being limited in practice, Wynn has made sure he will be ready when his time comes going all the way back to last season: “I learned a lot,” he told reporters last week. “I feel like last year really gave me an opportunity to look on the brighter side of things and see how everything works, especially going as far as we went last season. Being able to see all of that as a rookie was special.”
“Also, I was able to learn how plays operate, how practice goes, and how the guys take care of their bodies,” the 22-year-old continued. “Being able to be in the film room with the guys has helped, and also just being out here at practice. Even if I’m not getting physical reps, I can always get mental reps with Coach [Dante Scarnecchia] or some of the other players who know the calls out there.”
Wynn will eventually take over as the Patriots’ left tackle and get a chance to become the player he was drafted to be. Whenever this happens — probably not in the ultimate future but a bit further down the line — he will be mentally ready to handle the pressure of protecting Tom Brady’s blindside. He built the foundation for that last year, making the most out of an unfortunate situation.