Patriots Offensive Line; Could the Fix be in the Draft?
The beginning of last season was a trying time for the Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, but he was somehow able to make it work while losing pieces and gaining new pieces. This season is starting off with the same kind of feeling and my senses are telling me Scarnecchia has his work cut out for him once again. The Patriots scouts like what they see out of a player from Oregon named Kyle Long.
Sebastian Vollmer is a free agent and so is Donald Thomas and with a line that seems to lack depth, if even one of those guys goes, the Patriots could be scrambling once again to keep Brady upright. Dan Connoly and Logan Mankins have had their troubles staying on the field due to injury and so with all these factors working against the Patriots it seems like it will be another strenuous preseason for Scarnecchia.
Many people (including myself) think that the draft should be dedicated to mostly defense and I won’t change that stance, but am I pushing the envelope when I say our first pick should be an offensive lineman? An old school lesson in football is that the game is won and lost at the lines of scrimmage and even in this pass-first league I still think that’s the case.
In the 2013 NFL Draft there sits Kyle Long, an offensive tackle that can also play offensive guard. The biggest concern coming out of Oregon is his lack of experience, but I happen to think we have the best offensive line coach in the league based on what he is able to build throughout the course of the season. His lack of experience doesn’t detract me in the slightest from someone who is described as having “Top shelf physical attributes.”
I think the Patriots are only sitting on three draft picks so each one is vital (unless they do their famous trade a first rounder for a third rounder and two fourth-rounder’s). Kyle Long is the son of Hall-of-Famer Howie Long and the brother of the Rams defensive end Chris Long so football is in his blood. Long didn’t start playing football until sophomore year of high school and accepted scholarships to be a pitcher at Florida State. The southpaw got a DUI and had academic issues in school cutting his career short as a Seminole.
After his career came to a screeching halt in Florida, Long went to a community college where he played defensive line (obviously), but soon ventured into the offensive side of the ball. The 6’6, 304 pound lineman excelled and was given a scholarship to Oregon. He is entering the 2013 NFL Draft because he was not eligible to play in the NCAA anymore and his appeal to the NCAA was denied.
Mike Reiss reports he is projected to go in the second to third round of the draft and due to his main issue being his lack of experience I would take a shot on him. He’s obviously made some mistakes, but having the versatility to be either a tackle or a guard could earn him a starting role on this offensive line if we lose Vollmer or Thomas.