Patriots Offensive Line: Positional Breakdown

Patriots offensive line
Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots offensive line frankly did not get the job done in 2019. Brady, who is known for having a historically quick release could not get the ball out fast enough with this line. Fortunately, David Andrews is back from a freak injury that cost him the entire season. Isaiah Wynn will also start the season at 100% which is crucial. As of now our starting five are all highly rated players. I know this article is not going to get the same amount of views as the running backs or wide receivers. You guys reading this are the real fans.

Patriots Offensive Line: Starting Five

Left Tackle: Isaiah Wynn – 6’3″ 313 lbs

Wynn has been a highly touted player since being selected 23rd overall in 2018. He played eight games last season and was a noticeable improvement from Marshall Newhouse. He was, however, somewhat inconsistent in his first half season in the NFL. The biggest concern for Wynn is undoubtedly his health. He has missed 24 of out of his first 32 games as a Patriot. If he can stay healthy throughout whatever training camp the quarantine allows for, Wynn should develop into an above average offensive tackle.

Wynn allowed only two sacks and got called for three penalties in 502 snaps this season. While those numbers look incredible, New England’s overall sack numbers were much lower than they should have been because of Brady’s ability to get the ball out and willingness to throw the ball away.

Pro Football Focus has been very high on Isaiah Wynn. They predicted Wynn would be New England’s breakout player from the 2019 season before his injury:

Wynn was one of the best offensive line prospects of the 2018 draft class: He earned the nation’s 12th-best pass-blocking grade (85.0) and the second-best run-blocking grade (90.9) in 2017, all while giving up a measly five total pressures across his 346 pass-blocking snaps that year.

Mark Chichester, Pro Football Focus

Left Guard: Joe Thuney – 6’5″ 304 lbs

Thuney was the the only person keeping the Patriots offensive line together in 2019 without the leadership of David Andrews. Joe Thuney allowed just one sack in 1,140 offensive snaps in 2019. He even did so without being called for a single penalty. In 2018, Thuney did not allow a sack in 1,120 offensive snaps. Belichick franchise tagged Thuney because he is so vital to the Patriots offense. It is unclear if the Patriots will get a long-term contract with Thuney finalized, but they have plenty of cap room in 2021.

Center: David Andrews – 6’3″ 300 lbs

Andrews proved how valuable he was last season by watching the entire operation crumble without him. Out of all the Patriots offensive linemen, he may be the most important. David started out as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Since then, he has been a two-time captain and Super Bowl Champion for the greatest dynasty in football history. He is the one that makes all the calls on the line and makes sure everyone on the line knows their assignments. Not only is he a great blocker but he makes the players around him better by being there.

Right Guard: Shaq Mason 6’1″ 310 lbs

In 2019, Mason was not the menacing run blocker that he was known for prior to last season. Mason took the biggest hit out of anyone by losing Andrews. You can often see how vocal Andrews is with Mason even on the field. Karras was not the leader Mason needed him to be. Here are Mason’s Pro Football Focus Grades since 2016:

  • 2019: 73.0
  • 2018: 83.6
  • 2017: 81.6
  • 2016: 83.3

As you can see, Shaq saw a noticeable drop off in production without Andrews by his side. Now that Andrews is back healthy, there is a good chance Shaq goes back to being a headache for defensive front sevens.

Right Tackle: Marcus Cannon – 6’6″ 335 lbs

Cannon is the most inconsistent player on the Patriots offensive line. He went from an injury prone swing tackle from 2011 to 2015, to a fringe Pro Bowler in 2016. Since then Cannon has been an average right tackle. If Cannon is New England’s worst lineman, the Patriots are in pretty good shape. Today is Cannon’s 32nd birthday, and he will get to celebrate while wearing his three Super Bowl rings.

Returning Backups

OT Yodny Cajuste – 6’5″ 312 lbs

Yodny Cajuste spent 2019 rehabbing a quad injury that caused him to miss spring practices and to eventually land on the reserve/non-football injury list before the season even started. Cajuste is a promising lineman that has a chance to be a swing tackle this season. He will have to battle Justin Herron for the spot. Last year I covered Cajuste more in depth, here is an excerpt:

Cajuste is considered a big mauler or run blocker, but he can hold up in pass protection. In fact, during his last two seasons Cajuste allowed only 25 pressures on 855 pass-blocking snaps according to Pro Football Focus. In other words, he allowed a pressure every 2.8% of pass plays. His mobility made him very solid against edge rushers, and he is very strong at the point of attack. Cajuste is also known for being a very heads-up lineman. He has a high football IQ and does very well at picking up pass rushers. He excels at dissecting the rush, knowing who he needs to block and where he needs to be.

Yodny Cajuste is rated highly as a run blocker. He is able to drive his opponent back and out of the ball carrier’s way. Cajuste is also known for his ability to get up-field and block at the second level. Because of his high football IQ and motor, Cajuste frequently makes an impact on multiple defenders in the run game.

Read More:

OT Korey Cunningham – 6’6″ 311 lbs

Cunningham is a 24-year-old tackle the Patriots acquired from the Cardinals on August 29th, 2019. He started in all six games he appeared in for the Cardinals in 2018 before joining New England. As a Patriot he only appeared in Week 2 versus Miami when Wynn left the game due to injury. He spent the rest of the season on the bench, inactive for 14 games including the playoffs.

OG Hjalte Froholdt – 6’5 306 lbs

Froholdt missed the entire 2019 season with a shoulder injury. He will have to battle rookie Michael Onwenu to backup Thuney and Mason. Like Cajuste, Forholdt got his own article last year. Here is an excerpt from that rookie spotlight:

Froholdt saw 829 snaps as a pass-protector between 2017 and 2018, and did not allow a single sack. He finished his career with 2,446 snaps on the offensive line, 1,291 of which were in pass-protection and allowed only 3 sacks, all of which came in 2016. In his three years as an SEC lineman, Froholdt allowed a sack every 0.02% of snaps – pretty good! In 2017 he allowed just two quarterback hits and nine hurries all season.

Read More:

OG Jermaine Eluemunor – 6’4″ 335 lbs

Eluemunor was traded to the Patriots from the Ravens on the same day as Cunningham. He made 3 starts and 17 appearances for Baltimore between 2017 and 2018. After starting the year on the practice squad, Eluemunor played 10 games for the Patriots — no starts.

  • Najee Toran is an offensive guard returning to the Patriots after spending 2019 on the Practice Squad. Toran is not expected to make the 53-man roster.

NFL Draft Selections

This section is an important category, as the Patriots offensive line is typically loaded with homegrown talent. In fact, all five starting linemen have spent their entire careers in New England.

OG Michael Onwenu – 6’3″ 344 lbs

Onwenu was drafted with the 3rd pick in the 6th round out of Michigan. He is a large guard even by NFL standards. Many project Onwenu as a backup guard, but an attention to footwork and hand position could massively elevate his play. A bull rush will not stand a chance against Onwenu as he can match any power rush with his own strength.

Onwenu is a person to pay attention to as Joe Thuney will be a free agent next season unless a contract extension can be worked out soon. He will have a chance to battle Forholdt for reps and could compete for the starting left guard job in 2021.

OT/OG Justin Herron – 6’4″ 308 lbs

Herron was a standout tackle for Wake Forest, but may be seen as more of a guard at the NFL level. The Patriots announced Herron as a guard at the NFL Draft fueling that narrative.

Regardless of where Herron is listed, he will bring versatility to a Patriots offensive line that is loaded with players trying to establish themselves in the NFL. Herron is a very athletic lineman that is easily able to get to second level while run blocking. He could excel as a pulling guard at the NFL level.

C Dustin Woodard – 6’2 285 lbs

Woodard was a four-year starter at Memphis playing both center and guard. Dustin is undersized but tough enough to handle the job. He led a Memphis offensive line that was so effective in the run game that two running backs were drafted last season (Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard). With Andrews set to hit free agency after this season, Woodard is a name to watch this training camp.