The New England Patriots’ need for an offensive tackle depends entirely on how they handle free agency.
Starting left tackle Nate Solder and top reserves LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming all are unrestricted free agents this offseason. The Patriots currently only have right tackle Marcus Cannon and 2017 rookies Antonio Garcia, Andrew Jelks and Cole Croston signed for the 2018 season. Garcia spent the entire season on the non-football illness list and was down to 260 pounds during the season. That’s not ideal.
If the Patriots can sign Solder and either Waddle or Fleming, they probably don’t need to draft another offensive tackle. They would have Solder and Cannon as starters, a top backup, plus players to groom in Garcia, Croston and Jelks.
If the Patriots don’t re-sign Solder, they’ll likely need to use a first- or second-round pick on an offensive tackle of the future. Garcia was a third-round pick, and it seems unlikely they’ll be able to count on him as a starter in 2018 after he lost so much weight during his rookie year.
Let’s examine the top 10 offensive tackles in the 2018 NFL Draft, as ranked by WalterFootball.com.