Recently, the New England Patriots's offensive line was found to be the second best in the NFL. Not bad for one that was highly questioned going into the season. Well, if you've got a prized asset to block for, with the promise of Ugg Boots if you do well, how couldn't you be awesome?

However, there are two members of this unit who could become free agents this year, in the form of Sebastian Vollmer and Donald Thomas. And keeping these two will be important to the Pats success next season.

Let's start with the less important Thomas. He isn't a starter on the line, and he isn't perceived too highly by fans. But what we need to remember is how well Offensive Line coach Dante Scarnecchia has got this line playing, despite the lack of personnel. And it's for that reason why Thomas will need to stick around. He's a flexible player (as you have to be if you want to be a Patriots - heck, even Tom Brady can punt!), and can be shifted about the whole of the line if people go down hurt (which happens a lot). Of course, he could be expendable if it means other free agents like Wes Welker, Aqib Talib and the aforementioned Vollmer can stay, but Thomas is a handy guy to have around.

Now, onto Vollmer. Him and Nate Solder have been very impressive in the tackle positions, and this is a partnership that will need to stay together if the Patriots want success. If Brady needs one thing, its confidence in the o-line. We've often seen him fall/duck when there's been a threat of pressure. But this has always been from an interior pass rush. You don't see Brady worrying too often about pressure from the edge. Nor does he need to with Solder and Vollmer doing what they do. And if you want Brady to stay upright, it's imperative you keep Vollmer around.

As to how they can improve next year, it's all about health. Guys like Vollmer, Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins have been in and out of the team with injuries. If the main 5 guys can keep mostly healthy next year, then that shall improve the team. Another factor will be more experience. Ryan Wendell is one of the more underrated Patriots. He did a tremendous job in his first year as the starting Center for Brady, and he will have more experience going into next year. The same can be said for Solder, who was also starting at Left Tackle for the first time. A year protecting Brady's blind side is crucial experience, and hopefully next year he can step up and play with more confidence.

Hit me up on Twitter @BrendanAnnely

Brendan Annely 1/29/2013 05:20:00 PM Edit

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