The New England Patriots, who are currently in their middle of their 2019 preseason, have 90 players on their active roster at the moment. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Today, the series continues with New England’s starting left tackle.
Name: Isaiah Wynn
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 76
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6’2, 310 lbs.
2018 review: With the 23rd overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft, the Patriots invested in versatile Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. The goal of the investment was obvious: one day, Wynn should fill a starting role along New England’s line — possibly the one that was vacated when the team’s long-time left tackle, Nate Solder, left to join the New York Giants on a record-breaking contract not even two months before the draft.
Early on during his tenure with the Patriots, however, he saw most of his action on the right side of the line. With Marcus Cannon still rehabbing from an ankle issue that forced him to end 2017 on injured reserve and with trade acquisition Trent Brown filling Solder’s old role, Wynn opened training camp — he sat out OTAs — seeing considerable action at both spots before opening preseason as the second-string right tackle behind LaAdrian Waddle.
While he sat out the Patriots’ preseason opener, Wynn did dress in week two and first saw the field when he was subbed in for Waddle on the game’s second series. On just the ninth snap amidst New England’s starting offense, however, his first contest and in fact his entire rookie season came to an end: pass blocking against Michael Bennett, Wynn was pushed back and came up limping after giving up a quarterback hurry.
Up until he tore his Achilles tendon on that play, Wynn looked promising in limited action. He was a surefire bet to make the roster and see irregular playing time as a backup/swing tackle option with considerable developmental upside, but the injury destroyed that plan and instead forced him to undergo surgery. And while he did still make the most out of the situation by continuing to learn during rehab, he entered 2019 with limited on-field experience.
2019 preview: After losing Trent Brown to the Oakland Raiders on yet another record-breaking deal, Wynn was penciled in as the next man up to fill the left tackle position. Despite the 23-year-old having yet to fully participate in a practice after essentially also sitting out New England’s offseason workout program, it appears as if little has changed when it comes to this plan: Wynn should still be seen as the top option week one.
In order to achieve that, the Patriots are giving him all the time in the world. The goal, after all, is to have the second-year man ready once the regular season starts — and if this means sitting out practices in early August, so be it. That being said, until he actually enters the field either in competitive team drills during practice or in one of the three remaining preseason games, everything about Wynn remains more or less speculation.
That is the biggest issue when it comes to projecting his 2019 season. Nobody but the Patriots know his status at this very moment, and how his rehabilitation work is going. The signs — he opened training camp not on the physically unable to perform list — are encouraging, but only one piece of the puzzle. And as of right now, Dan Skipper or maybe even left guard Joe Thuney are still the top option at the left tackle spot.
Beyond his availability once the regular season starts, there are also questions about how Wynn’s actual performance will look like. His nine preseason snaps from a year ago are little indication one way or the other, so he is a blank canvas when it comes to NFL-level assessment. You should expect this to change at one point this season — ideally, it will be week one, but earlier or later also seems to be possible.
One thing is certain therefore: Wynn is worth being kept a close eye on with the Patriots’ regular season opener not even a month away. And as of right now, there is no need to be worried about him... yet.