The New England Patriots made an attempt to bolster their offensive line depth before the 2019 season. It … didn’t go so hot.
The Patriots sent a 2020 sixth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for offensive tackle Korey Cunningham, traded a fourth-round pick for guard Jermaine Eluemunor and a sixth-round pick and acquired center Russell Bodine from the Buffalo Bills for a sixth-round pick.
None of those players even became top backups for the Patriots. Bodine was released before Week 1, Cunningham was passed on the depth chart by Marshall Newhouse to become the Patriots’ swing tackle, and Ted Karras and James Ferentz were the Patriots’ top interior offensive line reserves over Eluemunor.
Cunningham is signed through the 2021 season, and Eluemunor is a restricted free agent. Bodine is now with the Detroit Lions.
Cunningham is no guarantee to actually make the 2020 Patriots, however. The Patriots’ projected starters are left tackle Isaiah Wynn and right tackle Marcus Cannon. The Patriots also have 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste on their roster, and they’re likely to add a few more players at the position to provide competition.
Cunningham originally was selected by the Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati. He started six games as a rookie and let up two sacks, two QB hits and 14 hurries with Arizona. He played just 59 snaps with the Patriots in 2019 and allowed two hurries.
Perhaps the best trait for Cunningham, who will turn 25 in May, is his athleticism. He ran a 4.9-second 40-yard dash with a 1.75-second 10-yard split, 35.5-inch vertical leap and 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump at 6-foot-5, 311 pounds at his pro day two years ago. Cunningham’s testing numbers are historically good. Since 2000, only one offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine — Kolton Miller — has leapt further in the broad jump. Only Joshua Miles has leapt higher in the vertical leap. Only three offensive linemen — Aviante Collins, Brian O’Neill and Erik McCoy — have run faster.
Athleticism certainly isn’t everything along the offensive line, but it does give Cunningham potential if he can put everything together.
Cunningham is still a young player, and he’s an intriguing player to watch as he attempts to make a second-year leap in New England’s system with a full offseason under his belt.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images