Patriots Mailbag: Is Left Tackle Of The Future Already On The Roster?


Apr 13, 2018

Free agent signings are slowing down, and the 2018 NFL Draft is still two weeks away, so let’s get straight into this week’s mailbag.

Oh, and happy Friday the 13th. Walk under ladders and break glass but avoid guys in hockey masks.

I heard Garcia is back up to 290 and says he feels great does that mean more spending a second round pick on a OT instead of a first ?
— @bar545
That information came from the Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard, who ran into Tony Garcia in the Foxboro area.

I’ll be honest: Hearing that Garcia already has gained back 30 pounds he lost last season with blood clots in his lungs gives me a little bit of pause on the Patriots’ level of need for a left tackle. I don’t hate the idea of the Patriots taking an offensive tackle in the second or third round, rather than the first, and having him compete for the blindside role with Garcia, LaAdrian Waddle, Cole Croston, Matt Tobin and Andrew Jelks.

This isn’t a strong offensive tackle class, so it’s possible players unworthy of first-round selections will be overdrafted.

IF a player the Patriots deem worthy of a first-round pick starts to fall to No. 23 or 31, then sure, take a future franchise left tackle in the first round and keep Garcia, a 2017 third-round pick, around as a swing option. But there’s no point in reaching for a player with other tackle options on the team and potentially similar talents available later.

Ideally, I’d target Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O’Neill at the end of the second round. I don’t know if there’s a major difference between him and, say, UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller.

Any possibility the Pats trade a 1st rounder for an already established elite LT?
— @whealan13
It’s possible, but it takes two to tango, as they say. Who’s shopping a left tackle worthy of a first-round pick? Would the Philadelphia Eagles trade Jason Peters? General manager Howie Roseman has said no. Would the Oakland Raiders, who have dumped multiple players under new head coach Jon Gruden, be willing to shop Donald Penn?

It seems a little unlikely. And since both players are on the older side (aka older than me), it’s unlikely the Patriots would be willing to give up a first-round pick for either guy.

We are thin in OL an coverage linebackers; With those two things in mind would you trade up both of our first round selections for a QB? #MailDoug
— @schimelmitz
I still don’t hate the idea of trading up for a quarterback, but it kind of heavily depends on Garcia.

If the Patriots still believe Garcia can be a left tackle of the future, then that position becomes a lesser need. I think the Patriots can get a quality athletic linebacker in the second round.

Texas’ Malik Jefferson, Virginia’s Micah Kiser, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter, USC’s Uchenna Nwosu and Ohio State’s Jerome Baker all are potential fits at linebacker in the second round. I’d even go into the third round and look at players like Central Florida’s Shaqueem Griffin, BYU’s Fred Warner and Florida State’s Josh Sweat.

But it also would take the right quarterback to fall for the Patriots to be willing to move up. If the Patriots could get UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield by just giving up their first-round picks, then I’d do it. Then the Patriots still could get, say, Carter at No. 43 overall as a hybrid edge player, O’Neill at No. 63 overall and either Warner, Indiana tight end Ian Thomas or Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis at No. 95.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Who’s a better fit/prospect for Pats Rudolph or Lauletta?
— @timnaughton
Based on athleticism and measurables, Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta is a better fit. But the Patriots also are kind of all over the board when it comes to drafting quarterbacks.

I think both Lauletta and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph are personality fits. Lauletta and Rudolph both are confident players with a good head on their shoulders, and they were both accurate at the college level.

I’m warming up to the idea that the Patriots potentially could stay put at No. 23 and take Rudolph if he’s there. I really like the idea of the Patriots waiting to take Lauletta in the second round, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be there when the Patriots want to select him. He could wind up being the seventh quarterback off the board after USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Rosen, Mayfield, Rudolph and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

@DougKyed Do you believe in the Jackson hype? #MailDoug
— @Austinw7612
I … don’t know.

But that’s not very helpful.

I think there are better fits for the Patriots at the top of the draft, like Mayfield and Rosen, but I’m also warming up to the idea of Jackson. He’s not as accurate as a typical Patriots quarterback, but neither was Jacoby Brissett, whom New England selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Brissett completed 60 percent of his passes as a senior at North Carolina State, and Jackson completed 59.1 percent last season. Jackson was over 60 percent before going 13-of-31 in Louisville’s bowl game loss to Mississippi State.

Jackson is a much better athlete than Brissett, and starter Tom Brady apparently supports the idea of taking him.

Rudolph would be a more classic fit in the second half of the first round, but Jackson certainly has higher upside.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Doug why is everyone so pressed to draft Brady’s successor this year when he just came off a MVP performance and shown a desire to play for at least 4 more years? I can see why he feels unappreciated…
— @Patsman11261980
That’s an easy one. It’s because he’s 41 years old, and ideally, his successor will have a few years to learn the offense.

With the massive spike in WR contracts/extensions being signed this offseason (Watkins, Jeffery, Landry, etc.), how does that affect the way NE evaluates the position going forward?
— @danielphlps
I don’t think it does. I believe they’ll keep taking low-cost fliers on wide receivers. The combined 2018 cap hits of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt and Jordan Matthews are just $16.7 million. That’s less than Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is making per season on his contract. That’s crazy, right? Especially since the Patriots have a very deep receiver group that includes three first-round picks and a second-rounder.

The Patriots have always found ways to acquire bargain wide receivers.

As Danny Shelton comes in, and Valentine coming back, Malcolm Brown will probably move from NT to more of a 3-tech this year. Do you think it’s possible he slims down 10-15 lbs, and maybe better his pass rushing doing so? Would be a slam dunk pro bowler if he got to ~6 sacks/year
— @carlmarcus97
Malcom Brown already appeared to have lost some weight going into last season, so it’s possible. And Brown was a pretty solid athlete for a 319-pound prospect back in 2015. So, if he got down to around 300 pounds, then maybe he could move even better. I don’t hate the idea. The Patriots have to decide soon if they’re going to pick up Brown and Shelton’s fifth-year contract options (which only are guaranteed for injury).

Who is your dark horse WR to crack the roster (either currently on the team or not)?
— @jonothorpejazz
It would have to be Riley McCarron.

What did you think of wrestlemania?
— @KazerTazer
I didn’t get to watch it live, because I was at a wedding in Miami (poor me), but I enjoyed it upon delayed viewing. I loved the Ronda Rousey-Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon-Triple H match. I also really liked the Daniel Bryan-Shane McMahon vs. Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens and Undertaker vs. John Cena matches. I thought the Braun Strowman-Nicholas thing was funny too.

Overall, I’d say it was better than the last two WrestleManias. I’m excited about the Greatest Royal Rumble pay-per-view now, which airs during the afternoon before the second day of the draft. That works out pretty well for me since I’ll have nothing to do that day.

Thoughts on ‘3 Ninjas’ and/or ‘Surf Ninjas’? #MailDoug
— @StephenMWarren
I was always a “3 Ninjas” guy.

Thin crust New York style pizza or deep dish Chicago? #MailDoug
— @Kid_From_Quincy
I’ve only ever had deep dish pizza from like, Unos, so I don’t have a take on that.

I do have a take on Italian pizza vs. Greek pizza, though. I think Italian pizza has higher upside, but Greek pizza is more consistent.

Don’t @ me. Southeastern Massachusetts suburban pizza for life.

Do you and I share the feeling that Jordan Matthews is perfect for this team? #MailDoug
— @KnuckleDragon
Yes. Great signing.

@DougKyed who’s your favorite player in this draft ? #maildoug
— @LordJashiin
I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I really like Rosen, Mayfield, Lauletta, N.C. State running back Jaylen Samuels and the athleticism of some of the safeties like Stanford’s Justin Reid, Arizona’s Dane Cruikshank, Northwestern’s Godwin Igwebuike and Penn State’s Troy Apke.

Thumbnail photo via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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