It can be a bumpy and indirect road to the NFL all the way from Quebec, Canada, so it's little surprise that Sidy Sow's story of how he became a Patriots fourth-round pick is one that doesn't follow the usual journey.
A native of Bromont, Quebec, Sow was a hockey player growing up who rooted for the Canadiens like most kids in the area. But at age 10, Sow picked up football and found it a better match for his mounting size, spending his early days in the game along the defensive line, while also picking up handball and Olympic Weightlifting during his time in high school. His high school career culminated with his participation in the 2016 International Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Texas, but Sow still wasn't getting any attention from the big-time American colleges.
This sparked Sow and a few dozen teammates to board a bus and travel to various football camps and showcases around the United States with the hope of finding a scholarship. After an initial stop at Ohio State, Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton was immediately intrigued with the big Canadian, asking him to attend his own team's workout, but with designs on moving him from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive line.
"He had a teammate that we were at the time even more interested in," recalled Creighton. "So they both came to our camp, and Sidy started working o-line for the first time at these camps. Our o-line coach just said, 'Look, that guy can play o-line.' And so I remember I came over during the one on ones and here was this just really powerful, good-sized dude that had really good feet. And I made the comment, because we were more interested in his teammate, I just said, 'Man, I think that you're an o-lineman,' and so yeah, we offered him."
"Honestly, my dream was always to play in the NCAA and followed by the NFL," said Sow. "So once I got one opportunity to play in the NCAA, it was all about playing football. When they told me, 'We want you to play offensive lineman,' I said, 'okay.' I dedicated all the ounces of energy that I had and everything I could to be the best I can at my position and fortunately it led me to have a very long career at Eastern, which I'm really happy about. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. I got to keep this mindset because it is the reason I am here at this point."
Sow redshirted his first season, but started 11 games in his second year at left tackle. In 2019 he moved to guard and started all 44 games at the spot over the rest of his four seasons that included a COVID-shortened 2020. His initial experience at left tackle offers some intrigue for the Patriots, who appeared to have ignored any pure tackles in the draft after signing three of them in free agency.
"We'll try and fit him in the best spot possible," said Patriots Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh following the conclusion of the draft. "Sidy does have some background at left tackle. He's been a guard here the last couple years. He's not a little guy. He's got plenty of athleticism. He's got plenty of power. So we'll see how it goes and try and find the best spot for him."
"He's got that ability. I mean, if we could have two Sidy's, we'd be playing them at left guard and left tackle," said Creighton. "He just honestly could do both. He's got the athleticism, he's got the feet for us to be able to be a left tackle... He is just so powerful building on the interior blocks and has the athleticism to pull. And so we thought that he'd be even better for us, if we could just get that push in the middle."
No matter where Sow ends up, his traits are compelling, even as the team selected two other players on Day 3 who primarily played on the interior of the offensive line.
"He's very coachable," said Creighton. "I don't know if they're looking at him as a swing guy and all that but I mean, he's gonna play either side for sure. And then you know, I think that he could get out to right tackle if they needed as well. He's not super long. Some of those guys are just like freaks, he doesn't have that kind of length. I've never seen him getting measured lower than six-foot-five so he's got length but he's got more of a powerful guard body, but again, his feet are good, he's got a really good base, and is really coachable."
Helping the transition will be Sow's proximity to his hometown and familiarity with the Patriots, bringing his football journey full circle.
"The Patriots have such an amazing fan base and in Quebec, they are one of the biggest teams in terms of fan support. I watched the team their whole tenure," said Sow. "They have had amazing Super Bowl runs through this century, so to finally be part of it and contribute as much as I can in the success of the team. It means so much as a little kid watching Tom Brady play football and just being amazed by the love of football. So, to get them to call me on draft day and tell me they want me is the most amazing feeling.
"I just want to show that it's possible and that football in Canada is serious. People have to take a good look at it because I'm not the only one. There are a lot of hidden gems that have gone by and were missed over the past year. I'm just one lucky dude that the spotlight was put on. But overall, I'm just excited, especially when it comes to the Patriots and being able to contribute as much as I can."
Patriots Draft Pick Profile
Strengths: Wide, hulking offensive lineman with a nasty finisher's edge...Consistent push up the middle... Surprising athleticism and light feet for size... One year of experience at left tackle with fill-in potential at the position in the NFL... Highly experienced with 55 career starts...Flagged for just one penalty (false start) as a senior.
Weaknesses: Oldest player drafted by the Patriots, will turn 25 in June...Requires technique refinement sustaining blocks... Needs better understanding of NFL stunts and games.
Personal: Attended Champlain College Lennoxville... Was named Senior captain as defensive lineman...Two-time First-Team All-MAC. Played in 2023 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Comparable NFL player: Michael Onwenu - The Patriots seem to have a type along the interior offensive line, where big Mike is the kind of wide-bodied brute that matches not only Sow, but much of Atonio Mafi and Jake Andrews' games as well. Despite having the power and size to be an ideal fit inside, Sow, like Onwenu, has surprising athleticism and could offer some tackle potential if called upon.
By the numbers
|PLAYER NUMBERS||Combine Position Average|
|Height: 6-5||6-4 3/4|
|40 Yards: 5.20||5.07|
|Bench (225): 27||20.7|
|Vertical Jump: 32||29.2|
|Long Jump: 9'2"||8'10" 3/4|
What they're saying …
Chad Reuter/NFL.com: Sow has played a high number of snaps during his time at Eastern Michigan. Despite the starting experience, he struggles to find proper angles in the running game and respond to blitzes/twists in pass protection. While he could continue to improve and has some physical traits to work with, making a roster will be an uphill climb.
View photos of Patriots fourth round pick, guard Sidy Sow in action at Eastern Michigan.
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