The New England Patriots invested considerable resources in their offensive line during last month’s draft. Three players were selected to bolster the depth up front, with Justin Herron being one of them: the Patriots invested the 195th overall selection in the Wake Forest offensive tackle who projects to move inside to the guard position due to his size — he was measured at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds at the combine — and his lateral movement abilities.
While his eventual position remains up in the air for the moment, Herron knows that he needs to be ready for whatever the Patriots’ coaching staff will throw at him. As he pointed out during his introductory media conference call shortly after hearing his name called in the sixth-round of the draft, New England’s representatives “told me that they’ve seen me play tackle but they’re also interested to see if I can play any other positions.”
His positional flexibility to play both on the end of the line and possibly on the interior as well, is not the only positive trait the Patriots might have seen in the 24-year-old during the pre-draft process. Herron also brings plenty of experience to the table, for example, after having started all 51 games he appeared in during his college career. On top of this, he listed three positives that might have caused New England to invest in him.
“I would like to think my athleticism and my foot quickness stood out, among many of the other things. I would like to think how physical I play, as well, also stands out. So, those three things for sure,” said Herron before also talking about where he still thinks there is room for improvement in his game: “Definitely my position in the run game for sure and being able to have a good base and not get narrow at times.”
While Herron’s natural on-field abilities and room for improvement — he only started playing along the offensive line during his senior year in high school back in 2013 — are both intriguing for a Day Three draft selection, his value to the Patriots could extend beyond them. After all, his off-field résumé and leadership also are impressive and potentially enticing to a team always trying to build a strong locker room culture.
“For me, my leadership style is more of a type of leader that likes to hold other people accountable. I don’t really yell and scream because I feel like I can’t get through to anybody that way, so I’m more of a guy who likes to talk and hold my teammates accountable,” Herron said. “Being a captain this past season was a huge honor and it definitely taught me a lot about myself and it taught me more about how can I communicate with players and what it means to be a leader.”
“For me, honestly, I think the one thing about my leadership style that I like is the fact that I’m always respectful, no matter who I’m talking to,” the rookie added. “Coming in, I’m a rookie and I’m just planning on doing the best that I can and just getting better every day and learning from all the vets that are up there and being respectful. So, that’s where I see myself at the moment, and that’s where I feel like my role will be.”
Despite the Patriots losing some high-profile players over the course of the offseason, Herron will still encounter a locker room filled with veteran talent. The offensive line alone, for example, features players that have started a combined 248 regular season and playoff games. Herron will encounter a lot of experience, and a room filled with seasoned talent across the board. That said, his own personal approach to leadership could fit in well.