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Patriots’ Joe Thuney named as the fourth best guard in the NFL

Related: Patriots defense still ranked as the best in the NFL

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Over the first four years of his career, former third-round draft pick Joe Thuney developed into a core member of the New England Patriots’ offensive line — one that started on two Super Bowl-winning squads and has appeared in all 74 possible regular season and playoff games since 2016. His durability and impressive development has earned Thuney not just the franchise tag earlier this offseason, but also recognition as a second-team All-Pro following his 2019 campaign.

Now, another honor is coming Thuney’s way: he has been named the fourth best guard in football by USA Today’s Doug Farrar:

4. Joe Thuney, New England Patriots

Thuney might be the least physically imposing player on this list. The third-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2016 doesn’t really pop off the tape in any particular category. At 6-foot-5 and 308 pounds, he doesn’t impose his physical will on defenders as other guards do. What Thuney has become, however, is the best possible distillation of the value of great technique. You just don’t see him out of position, and though he’s not some kind of leverage monster, he’s able to use that technique to get the job done in ways many far more physically gifted guards can’t.

To further bolster his case as one of the best guards in the league, Thuney’s impressive stats were also presented: he allowed just one sack, nine quarterback hits, and 33 hurries over 1,497 pass-blocking snaps the last two seasons for a pressure rate of just 2.9%. His outstanding pass protection in combination with an improved run-blocking set allowed him to become a valuable player up front for the Patriots.

And while it remains to be seen how his long-term future will look like — the team and Thuney did not come to an agreement on a long-term deal ahead of last week’s deadline, leaving him to play on the one-year, $14.78 million tag in 2020 — he is expected to play an important role as the team is transitioning away from quarterback Tom Brady.

Thuney, by the way, is not the only Patriot mentioned: Shaq Mason just missed the cut as an honorable mention.