The New England Patriots decided to bolster their offensive line depth on the third day of the NFL draft last month. Not only did they pick Michigan’s Michael Onwenu and Wake Forest’s Justin Herron in the sixth-round, they also invested a seventh-round selection — the 230th overall — in Dustin Woodard. The Memphis product may not be the most athletically impressive player drafted by the team, but he brings plenty of experience and positional versatility to the table. On top of it all, he also has proven himself a durable player.
A look at his injury history, or rather the lack thereof, illustrates this:
N/A: There is literally only one report about Woodard being absent from team activity due to unspecified and therefore potentially injury-related reasons: according to Jonah Jordan of the Daily Memphian, “has been out a few days” in August heading into his 2018 junior campaign. Whatever the reason for his absence, however, it did not impact his availability during the season in any way. Woodard went on to start all 14 of the Tigers’ games at right guard that year, and was on the field for 979 of a possible 1,028 offensive snaps (95.2%).
What this means for the Patriots
After he played a reserve role in the first two games of his true freshman season, Woodard went on to become a model of durability and consistency at Memphis: he started 52 straight games to close out his four years in the program — tying the school record for most starts by an offensive lineman and also setting a new mark for most games played — and was on the field for 3,627 of 3,925 possible offensive snaps (92.4%). He did all that despite playing one of the most physically challenging positions in the sport.
Along the way, Woodard did not suffer any reported injuries. While he did not play 100% of the snaps and missed the aforementioned “few days” of practices in the summer of 2018 for unknown reasons, he was as steady a player as any in college football between 2016 and 2019. Consequently, the Patriots should not worry about any medical issues when it comes to their seventh-round rookie — one whose track record is impressive, and who could very well carve out a depth spot along the team’s O-line this year.