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Patriots rookie comparisons: Justin Herron, Offensive line

Related: Patriots rookie comparisons: TE Dalton Keene

NFL Combine - Day 4 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

In an effort to put an end to the long-standing question of “Who does he remind me of?” Keagan Stiefel has compiled a list of player comparisons for the New England Patriots’ 2020 draft class. Each will get a pro comparison and a comparison to a current or former Patriot. Now, these rookies are not necessarily going to become those that they are compared to, but they share similarities in terms of playing style.

Justin Herron is the least talked about member of the Patriots’ 2020 draft class, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact this season.

The 195th pick of April’s draft (nailed it, by the way) has had a good start to camp and seemingly has worked out a spot on the roster, or at the very least a job on the practice squad. With Jermaine Eluemunor expected to take over for Marcus Cannon at right tackle and Yodney Cajuste a candidate to fill the main swing tackle role, Korey Cunningham and Herron will be vying for the final tackle spot on the roster. Herron has the edge in that competition, so get to know a little more about him here.

The Player

  • Justin Herron
  • Position: Tackle/Guard
  • Height: 6’5”
  • Weight: 305 lbs

Herron is a hard player to get a read on, with as many pros as cons when being evaluated.

In terms of pros: The Wake Forest product went all of 2017 without letting up a sack and shows great footwork and mirroring in the passing game. He has a good frame and is technically sound in his pass set. He is patient with pass rushers and will rarely make a mistake that leads to a sack.

In terms of cons: He will turn 25 in the middle of his rookie season as he spent six years with the Demon Deacons. His strength is an issue as he had trouble clearing space in the running game, and throughout the draft process he was consistently seen as a player that might have to move to guard to find success at the next level.

His up and down evaluation is a great reminder of a former first round pick.

Pro Comparison

  • Germain Ifedi
  • Position: Tackle/Guard
  • Height: 6’5”
  • Weight: 325 lbs

(Germain Ifedi started his career as a first-round tackle in Seattle but will soon make the change to guard as he starts his new career in Chicago)

Herron and Ifedi have a few similarities that stand out to me, the first being their ability to mirror in pass protection. Ifedi struggles mightily in pass pro when left on an island but that is mostly due to his anchor, he is easily maneuvered by stronger EDGE guys. He does, however, have a gift for mirroring pass rushers, something Herron also does very well. You can see that here:

The anchor is a problem for Ifedi but something that Herron does well, even for someone with strength concerns.

Both guys are also pretty pedestrian in the run game. Seattle runs a ton of zone and really bases its scheme off of how bad its offensive line has been the past few years. The Patriots and Wake Forest do not do that so there’s no real opportunity to compare how Ifedi and Herron play the run. I will say that though they both struggle with creating space they’re pretty agile at moving on to the second level.

Patriot Predecessor

  • Marshall Newhouse
  • Position: Offensive tackle
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 319 lbs

Not every free agent signing is a slam dunk, just like not every draft pick is a slam dunk. These two guys fall in the same boat for me.

Long before his, let’s say tumultuous, stint in New England, Marshall Newhouse was a pretty solid rotational guy in the NFL. That is exactly what Herron’s ceiling appears to be at tackle. That is also why I believe he is best suited as a guard, just like Newhouse who played his best football as a guard with the Giants and Raiders.

Not all comparisons are going to be picture perfect images of each other on-field and I believe this is the best example of that. Newhouse was set up for failure coming to New England, he was thrown into the fire in Miami, in a spot he wasn’t comfortable in, replacing a young first-round pick who was injured (should I keep going?) and was blocking for the GREATEST QUARTERBACK OF ALL TIME!

So with all of that being said, the comparison here lies in the fact that neither one of these guys were set up for success.

If Herron ever sees the field this year it will be in a dire situation that sets him up for the same kind of failure. Right now, he is simply not ready to play tackle in the NFL and has not yet made a conversion to guard. For the first time in this series we’re looking at a guy who could be cut, and it may be the best thing for his development considering that it might give him the chance to spend a year on New England’s practice squad.