While offensive tackle might not seem like an obvious need for the Patriots, New England has taken the time to meet with a first-round prospect at the position.
The Patriots, who hold the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, met virtually with Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, The Draft Network’s Justin Melo reported Wednesday.
Melo called Jenkins “a bonafide first-round pick” in his report. PFF also has Jenkins graded as a projected first-rounder.
PFF compared Jenkins to Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon in their draft guide. Jenkins, who’s 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, primarily played right tackle with the Cowboys but also spent 483 snaps at left tackle over the last three seasons.
Jenkins hasn’t allowed a sack since 2018, per PFF. He let up just two QB hits and two hurries in 2020 after allowing seven hurries in 2019.
Cannon is returning to the Patriots after opting out for the 2020 NFL season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. New England started rookie offensive lineman Michael Onwenu and veteran Jermaine Eluemunor, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, at right tackle in 2020. Rookie Justin Herron also got reps at the position.
If Patriots free agent left guard Joe Thuney leaves this offseason, Onwenu could shift over to his old role. Cannon is a potential cut candidate because of a $7 million salary, and if he does not return, then New England’s in-house options at right tackle would be Onwenu, Herron or 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste. The Patriots also could re-sign Eluemunor or bring in an outside option like Jenkins.
New England’s offensive line was a strength in 2020, but Thuney also was the unit’s best player. Center David Andrews also is set to be a free agent this offseason. It makes sense that the Patriots are looking to bring in some potential reserves to help the line in 2021.