With the 2018 NFL draft on tap this week, PFW offers a capsule look at each position. Today we look at the tackles.
Patriots need:* *Nate Solder's free agent departure after six seasons as New England's starting left tackle leaves a major hole on the Patriots offensive line. Though there are some (fingers crossed) internal options to fill the role protecting Tom Brady's blindside - re-signed veteran LaAdrian Waddle heads the list along with the developmental option of 2017 third-round pick Antonio Garcia - adding a high-end tackle with the possibility of stepping into the lineup early in his career is a strong possibility.
High-end options: The reality is that this isn't a very impressive class of tackle prospects. There isn't a guy worthy of a top-10 option, as has been the case at the premier position in so many past drafts. In fact, there isn't really a consensus as to who the top prospect is. The trio of Texas' Connor Williams, Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey and UCLA's Kolton Miller has emerged as the cream of the crop, all with the potential to go in the first round. McGlinchey is probably the safest of the picks, while Williams and Miller may actually be in line for position switches at the next level. New England will certainly have its chance at nabbing at least one of the big three tackles, but would that be good value? Is one of them even capable of stepping in as a starter as a rookie at one of the most important positions in football for one of the NFL's best offenses protecting the G.O.A.T.?
Mid-round value: While the top of tackle class is dubious at best, the next tier offers a few options with possible high-end upside. Arguments can be made that Oregon's Tyrell Crosby, Pitt's Brian O'Neill and Oklahoma's Orlando Brown have what it takes to be left tackle starters in the NFL. O'Neillmay have the most upside as converted tight end relatively new to the position. He and Crosby(who's been connected to the Patriots) would very much make sense for New England in the second round. Much further down the draft, West Georgia's Desmond Harrison was a man among boys - literally, he missed nearly five years of football after beginning his college career at Texas - who has the size and athleticism to warrant development on a late-round flyer.
Prediction: All signs would seem to point to the Patriots taking a tackle. McGlinchey would be the best early option, but the guess here is that either O'Neill or Crosby gets the call from Bill Belichick in the second round.