Skip to main content
Advertising

Official website of the New England Patriots

replay
Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Thu Apr 18 - 11:55 AM

Analysis: Top Takeaways From Offensive Line Workouts at the NFL Combine

With offensive tackle as a major need for the Patriots, this year's draft class is loaded. Here are the winners and losers from Sunday's workouts in Indy. 

Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Indianapolis.
Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Indianapolis.

The Patriots have major needs along the offensive line following a season where they ranked second-to-last in ESPN's pass-blocking win rate metric.

Without stable pass protection, quarterback Mac Jones got sped up to the point where he was relegated to the bench, and it deterred the Patriots from running the drop-back pass game that they envisioned under former offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien in 2023. Now, starting tackles Mike Onwenu and Trent Brown are unrestricted free agents. Between a lack of depth and a need to upgrade performance, offensive tackle is a major, major need this offseason.

The Patriots could reportedly enter the free-agent sweepstakes for former Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith, who was a second-team All-Pro last season. Smith would be a perfect short-term bridge to a younger player at left tackle, while Bengals free agent Jonah Williams is another potential stabilizer at right tackle. Besides those two, the free-agent market is thin, and the Patriots must add youthful talent to the pipeline.

Although the Pats have made it clear they'd like to retain Onwenu, it's worth discussing how things will change schematically for this group under new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and offensive line coach Scott Peters. Van Pelt and Peters were in Indianapolis this week to interview top offensive tackle prospects Joe Alt and Olu Fashanu, among others.

In terms of traits at OT, one would expect the Patriots to prioritize length, range, toughness, and smarts. New England is expected to transition to an outside zone-based rushing attack, which requires athletic offensive tackles who can move laterally to reach blocks on the line of scrimmage and block on the perimeter. The goal in outside zone is to get the defense to flow horizontally while the offensive line pins them down to set up cutback lanes for the ball carrier. To execute those blocks, tackles need to have good foot speed.

The new regime must believe that Onwenu either fits the scheme at tackle or is worth retaining as a guard. However, some evaluators had concerns with Onwenu's pass protection tape from last season at OT, pointing to how frequently he was getting beat around the edge. Many view Onwenu as a guard who can play tackle in a pinch rather than a long-term fit at right tackle. Onwenu is a great lineman, but if the Patriots retain him, it might not be as simple as penciling him in at right tackle.

Luckily for the Patriots, the offensive tackle class in this year's draft is terrific. We could see at least six tackles taken in the first round, with 10-plus tackles projected in the top 100 picks. If they find a veteran quarterback solution, say Baker Mayfield, the Patriots could take a tackle with their first-round pick. Due to the great depth in this class, there are also day-two options that could start early in their NFL careers in circumstances where the Patriots take a quarterback at No. 3.

Here are our biggest winners, losers, and other takeaways with the offensive linemen taking center stage at Lucas Oil Stadium on the final day of the NFL Combine in Indy:

Finding the Sweet Spot for the Patriots to Draft an Offensive Tackle

Assuming the Patriots draft a quarterback third overall, the board could get complicated for them to find a day-one starter at offensive tackle to protect Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. New England also needs to "weaponize" the offense by adding an impact receiver, furthering the different permutations for the Pats in the top 100.

Along with top tackles Joe Alt and Olu Fashanu, Taliese Fuaga, Troy Fautanu, JC Latham, and Tyler Guyton should all come off the board between picks 10 to 25. That leaves the Patriots in a tough spot: pass on Alt or Fashanu early, and they'll likely watch the parade go by until they're on the clock again at pick 34. New England could trade back into the first round to secure a franchise tackle, but there are two names to keep an eye on at the top of the second round.

First, Georgia product Amarius Mims has top-20 talent with freakish measurables (6-7, 340 pounds, 36 ⅛" arms) but only made seven career starts in college and had to tap out of drills after pulling up on his second 40-yard dash attempt grabbing at his hamstring. Mims is coming off tightrope ankle surgery that derailed his opportunity to be a full-time starter in 2023. Although it's in a limited sample size, Mims has a first-round athletic profile (9.53 RAS) and tape, but players with his lack of experience with injury concerns could fall to the second round. If he does slide, Mims would be a steal at 34th overall.

The other prospect who looks like a great fit for the 34th overall pick is BYU's Kingsley Suamataia. The nearly 6-5, 326-pound Suamataia moves similarly to cousin Penei Sewell of the Detroit Lions. The BYU product was excellent during field work during Sunday's drills. His movement skills are all over his film in pass protection, reach blocks, pulls, climbs, and screens – Suamataia has future starter written all over him.

New England will benefit from the depth in this offensive tackle class. Still, they need immediate contributors on the offensive line, so they'll have to find the sweet spots to address their needs.

Joe Alt Solidifies OT1 Status, Olu Fashanu Drops Out Due to Injury

The Patriots brass had formal interviews with Alt and Fashanu this week, with Alt in play with the third overall pick, while Fashanu could be in the conversation in a trade down scenario.

Alt completed his profile as a top-five tackle prospect with a 9.83 relative athletic score at nearly 6-9, 321 pounds. Although he's slightly taller than expected, Alt doesn't play too tall on film, with the ability to bend in his pass sets and as a run blocker. The Notre Dame product isn't a people-mover, and there are isolated instances where there are anchoring issues in pass pro, but he's as well-rounded a tackle prospect as you'll find in the draft. Alt's efficient lower half was on full display during field work, with his calling card being his ability to mirror in pass protection.

As for Fashanu, the Penn State product made it through his first 40-yard dash attempt before dropping out due to a right thigh injury. Fashanu still posted great speed and explosiveness scores with a 9.49 out of 10 RAS, but he didn't do agility drills or field work. Hopefully, we'll see him move around at Penn State's Pro Day.

New England selecting an offensive tackle with their first-round pick wouldn't be popular, but Alt or Fashanu would solve a multi-year issue.

Troy Fautanu Projects as a Top-25 Lock, Could Stick at Tackle Following Stellar Workout

The workout that garnered the most buzz from NFL scouts was Washington T/G Troy Fautanu. Due to his compact frame (6-3, 317) and inconsistent technique as a pass protector, most project Fautanu to move inside to guard. However, Fautanu measured in with 34.5-inch arms to meet the tackle threshold, and his field work showed an incredibly twitchy athlete who can effortlessly move laterally to slide and get out of his stance. The Washington product registered a 9.45 relative athletic score with excellent explosivenss and speed. His movements might be a better fit at guard, but Fautanu should be given a chance at tackle before moving inside. Either way, Fautanu won't last long in the first round.

Jordan Morgan, Patrick Paul, and Christian Jones Among Next Wave on Day Two, Early Day Three

The good news for the Patriots is that the tackles keep rolling with day-two prospects who can push for immediate playing time as rookies.

Starting with potential top-50 picks Jordan Morgan and Patrick Paul, Morgan measured in a tad undersized with 32.8-inch arms. However, his 1.70-second 10-yard split (97th percentile) and good explosiveness scores show up on film with his lateral movements and ability to quickly climb to the second level. As we documented earlier, the Patriots are transitioning to an outside zone system, and zone teams will love Morgan's movement skills. Despite lacking length, I'm not ruling out Morgan on day two for the Patriots because of his fit in their system.

Paul's 1.77-second 10-yard split at 6-7, 331 pounds is terrific. He is a towering left tackle prospect with immense size and over 36-inch arms. His pass sets are pro-ready, but you'd like to see a mountain of a man like Paul move the line of scrimmage more in the run game. Paul's lack of power in the run game might be related to his high-cut frame, which causes him to struggle levarging blocks, but he can slide and get out of his stance nicely.

The other tackles potentially pushing themselves into day two are Notre Dame's Blake Fisher, Texas right tackle Christian Jones, and Yale's Kiran Amegadjie. Amegadjie is recovering from an injury, so he didn't participate in the workout, but his measurements were impressive: 6-5, 323 pounds, 36.1-inch arms. His rise as a small-school prospect is worth digging into his film.

As for Fisher and Jones, Fisher is one prospect in this loaded class that hasn't been overly impressive from this perspective. His feet look choppy with an average athletic profile (7.12 RAS), and anchoring and recovery ability were issues on film. Jones continues to help himself in the pre-draft process. His film isn't as clean in pass protection as some others, but he's a mauler in the run game, had a good Senior Bowl week, and his 1.78-second 10-yard split ranks in the 80th percentile. Jones is a possibility early in the fourth round.

Projected Day Three Standouts: Roger Rosengarten and Frank Crum Test as Elite Athletes

Moving into day three, Rosengarten's film from the national championship game cratered his stock after a solid campaign as Washington's blindsided protector. Rosengarten allowed a season-high five quarterback pressures in the loss to Michigan, but he didn't allow a sack all year and led all offensive linemen with a 4.92-second 40-yard dash. Washington's right tackle is a little undersized with 33.5-inch arms, but he's polished technically and a great athlete who impressed this week.

The other standout was Wyoming tackle Frank Crum, who had a great all-around workout posing a 9.95 RAS at 6-8, 313 pounds with 33.9-inch arms. His explosiveness was apparent in his jumps and 10-yard split (1.76s). Central Florida OT Tylan Grable also tested well with a 9.78 RAS and was smooth through the on-field work. We'll add both to the watch list.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

Related Content

Advertising

Latest News

Presented by
Advertising

Trending Video

Advertising

In Case You Missed It

Presented by
Advertising