Today we’re on to one of the most important positions on the roster, the guys who keep #12 safe and open up all those holes in the running game — the offensive line.
After losing Nate Solder in 2015, it was clear how vital the veteran left tackle was to the offense. His return to health in 2016, coupled with the return of Dante Scarnecchia as well as great luck injury-wise, gave the Pats some of their best play upfront in recent memory.
Marcus Cannon emerged from the depths of his 2015 season to have the best year of his career. It was one of the most unexpected turnarounds from an oft-maligned player.
The highest graded lineman at each position from the AFC last year pic.twitter.com/BXLBn4j0oD
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 7, 2017
The interior of the line has a great young core, with David Andrews, Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. Thuney stepped into the starting LG spot and was a stalwart ala Logan Mankins in 2005. That trio should only get better as they enter their second season together.
Reinforcements arrived this offseason as well, with Tony Garcia, perhaps the future at left tackle, drafted in the third round. The team also added Conor McDermott, an athletic tackle in the sixth round and a pair of undrafted rookie tackles.
An extension for Nate Solder could still be possible, but more likely is that his replacement will be groomed this season. The team has thrown enough at the wall that someone should emerge, with Garcia likely stepping into the backup swing role that should get him onto the field early.
The only other question is the interior depth where rookie Ted Karras was solid in spot duty as a rookie. He won’t be handed the job this year and will face plenty of competition for his roster spot this summer.
Let’s break down the entire line.