The Patriots could go a number of ways with their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Considering New England is set to have 19 players hit the open market come mid-March, the franchise could have quite a few needs to address. The Patriots already have a few areas in need of improvement a month-plus ahead of free agency, including tight end and wide receiver.
NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein, however, doesn’t see New England attacking any of the skill positions with its first-round pick in late April. With left guard Joe Thuney a virtual lock to land a big payday elsewhere, Zierlein has the Patriots bridging the gap on their offensive line in the form of Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.
“Intelligent and athletic with center/guard flexibility, Ruiz could take over pending free agent Joe Thuney’s guard spot right away and stabilize New England’s interior pass protection,” Zierlein wrote of Ruiz.
If the 20-year-old is able to live up to the expectations that come with being a first-round pick, New England potentially could be in OK shape at O-line. Veteran center David Andrews is “optimistic” about playing in the 2020 season after missing all of 2019, and 2018 first-round Isaiah Wynn was solid when healthy. Shaq Mason had a relatively down season in 2019, but we know what the right guard is capable of.
We’ll have to wait and see who will be in charge of coaching up New England’s offensive line, though. Longtime position coach Dante Scarnecchia on Tuesday announced his retirement after 34 seasons in New England.