FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s an added layer of intrigue surrounding New England Patriots top pick Isaiah Wynn.
The Georgia offensive lineman played left tackle as a senior with the Bulldogs, but he stands just a tick under 6-foot-3, which would be undersized for an NFL blind-side protector. The average NFL offensive tackle is nearly 6-foot-6.
Wynn was widely considered a guard in pre-draft analysis because of his stature, but the Patriots have a greater need at left tackle after letting Nate Solder walk in free agency. And Wynn might just have the arm length to play the position. While his arms would still be shorter than the average offensive tackle, they’re 33 3/8-inches, the same length at 2017 third-round pick Antonio Garcia.
Wynn, in a conference call, told the media the Patriots didn’t let him know if he’d be playing guard or tackle. When asked if other teams in the pre-draft process viewed him as a guard or tackle, the call cut out.
Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio spoke after the first round and indicated they would try him in both roles.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Caserio said. “When they get here, we’ll put them out there, we’ll get them reps. In the end, it’ll come back to what we think is best for the team. It’s like when we drafted Nate. His first year, the guy played right tackle and the guy never played right tackle before in his life. He was a jumbo tight end. However it goes, it’s so early in the process. We haven’t even been on the field yet with the group that we have. And there’s probably going to be some other moving parts here, so we’ll work him wherever we think is best and see how it unfolds. In the end, we just try the best five out there in the best spots that we feel is best for our offense and for our team.”
Wynn started games at both left tackle and left guard in college, so he provides versatility if the Patriots believe he can play on the edge despite his lack of length.
“He’s been productive in both of those areas, so he’s a good player, he’s got good traits, he’s been in a good program,” Caserio said. “He had to block a lot of good people in that conference, as you all know, you guys who all watch SEC football know there’s a lot of good football players down there, a lot of them got drafted tonight, there’s a probably a bunch that get drafted tomorrow, so he’s had to block those players. He has experience playing multiple spots so we’ll put him in the mix and see how it goes. Our whole philosophy on the whole offensive line is that we’ll put the best five guys out there and however it sorts itself out, it’ll sort itself out.”
Wynn said it didn’t matter to him where he plays and that he’s comfortable in both positions.
“Of course, at guard you’re trying to (get to) the point of attack quicker than opposed at tackle you can go three kicks …” Wynn said. “You know what it is? It’s all similar. It’s all similar.”
And Wynn thinks he can play left tackle despite the prospect of him being among the shortest players in the NFL to line up at the position.
“I believe my arm length and my feet and my technique makes up for it,” Wynn said.
New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, like Wynn, is a touch under 6-foot-3. Chicago Bears starting left tackle Charles Leno is just under 6-foot-4. So, while it’s rare, it’s not unheard of for an offensive tackle to lack prototypical size.
And if Wynn can play left tackle, then the Patriots got great value out of him late in the first round. Wynn let up just five pressures as a senior in the SEC, college football’s most difficult conference. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey and UCLA’s Kolton Miller, both of whom were selected in the top 15 picks by the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, respectively, let up 16 pressures apiece.
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