Under Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots have adopted a ‘better too early than too late’ mentality. We’ve all seen and acknowledged that it’s something that they do when cutting, trading, or choosing not to re-sign aging stars, but it’s also a mentality that they’ve applied to the NFL Draft.
New England has selected players within the top 100 picks despite a real lack of need at the position, instead opting to find a talented player that they believe can be developed in their system before eventually breaking out. James White, Trey Flowers, and Damien Harris all come to mind as players whose careers yielded great results despite seeing limited action early on.
One such player that could be the biggest gamble for the Patriots at that spot is Bernhard Raimann. Will New England pull the trigger and see if they can be the team to develop him into a star? Let’s find out.
Name: Bernhard Raimann
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Central Michigan (Senior)
Opening day age: 24
2021 stats: 12 games
Size: 6’6”, 303lbs
Expected round: 1st/2nd
2022 #Patriots Draft Target Thread— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) April 12, 2022
OT Bernhard Raimann
(6’6” - 303lbs)
The living embodiment of that “floor vs. ceiling” debate we like to have with offensive lineman. There’s work to be done, but the potential reward in gambling on this player is worth it. pic.twitter.com/4RuWVHBRx6
Strengths: Less than 24 months ago, Bernhard Raimann was a tight end. Let’s talk about athleticism, shall we?
Reimann’s a better athlete than just about every other offensive lineman prospect in this draft. He put a 4.49 second short shuttle together with a 7.46 three cone time, both of which were within the top ten times among all offensive lineman. That agility shows up on tape, where he demonstrated great change of direction and a quick start off the line. You can absolutely tell that Raimann is a former tight end on tape.
Number one positive with Raimann is his agility. He moves about as well as you’d expect a former tight end to move. Fluid lateral mover with good stop and start ability. pic.twitter.com/uR5m9RDi1s— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) April 12, 2022
One of the things that will help Raimann erase some concerns is his ability to create movement. When afforded the opportunity to build momentum, Raimann can generate some real lower body power and wash people off of their spot. He’s added an incredible amount of strength in the last two seasons and it doesn’t look like he’s done. With time, his legs will get stronger and he should really have all of the strength based tools you’d hope for.
When given the opportunity to create some momentum, Raimann can wash people out. He’s a great lateral run blocker because his legs are constantly driving and he has the ability to reach and wall off defenders. He’s can recover really well in the run game. pic.twitter.com/VtOLoBFF4h— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) April 12, 2022
Weaknesses: There are more notches in this belt than I’d like for a guy that will likely be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft. Here’s a quick rundown.
Raimann has bad hands. They’re sloppy, slow to get to their spot, and easily disengaged from. He hasn’t quite mastered the ability to use a punch, instead extending his arms and looking to lock on. He couldn’t get away with it in the MAC, and sure as hell won’t get away with it at the next level.
The base thing worries me a ton. Cam Jordan is going to take this rep and plant him and his QB on their asses. pic.twitter.com/62C2KFCMl2— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) April 12, 2022
As you would expect out of a player new to the position, Raimann is a leaner. Far too often he will lunge forward and hope to make that pancake. Professional rush men will take full advantage of that. In addition, he’s far too overactive on stunts and doesn’t ride defenders off their spot, instead looking for a chance to cut them off. Both negatives, but ones that can be fixed with coaching.
What would be his role? When drafting an offensive lineman in the top 50 picks, the hope is that they can be a starter for years to come. Raimann is no different… unless we’re talking about year one. Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn are both back in 2022, but neither are signed past 2023. The hope when drafting Raimann would be that he would be ready in year two to take over for one of the two current starters.
Does he have positional versatility? Despite the fact that he played tight end all the way up until 2020, Raimann will be looked at to do one thing and that is play tackle. He got some reps at guard down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, but no one is going to draft him for his acumen on the interior.
Who’s his competition? The fun thing about this pick is that there isn’t a single person that would expect Raimann to start early on. The Patriots have two starters ready to go on the roster. Technically he doesn’t have any competition for the starting job because he likely wouldn’t be given much of a shot to compete. Year one would be all about learning the game for Raimann.
Why the Patriots? This is what the Patriots do. They draft tackles a year too early. Nate Solder sat behind Matt Light. Marcus Cannon sat behind Sebastian Vollmer. Isaiah Wynn spent an injury-plagued rookie season behind Trent Brown. Raimann is a sensible option to be the next guy that sits behind an established starter.
Why not the Patriots? With the amount of needs the Patriots have, taking the “better too early than too late” route in the first round of the draft isn’t all that enticing. Raimann’s ceiling is enough to ensure that he goes in the top 50 picks. New England would likely have a number of players on their board who would provide more value early on.
Verdict: Offensive tackle is one of the most important positions in football. I’m not quite sure the Patriots would be willing to take a gamble on one that has a ton to learn before he’s ready. In a world where they can’t trade back, maybe they like Raimann given that high ceiling. With the opportunity to do everything they can to maximize value, I’d expect them to trade out of 21 before stretching for this player.