That’s the question my buddy and fellow Musket Fire staff writer Aryan Von Eicken asked me this morning after the New England Patriots signed the former Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle. Like several people, he had never heard of Will Svitek, and part of that might be because Svitek never played last season.
Svitek missed the entire 2012 season with a severe upper arm injury, but he did get significant playing time for the first time in his career in 2011. I will mostly evaluate the 31-year-old Stanford grad on his performance in 2011, and the news was reported by ESPN Boston’s Field Yates.
In 2011, the Falcons decided to bench Sam Baker after Week 6, because he was getting beat (embarrassed might be a better word) on a regular basis- Trent Cole, in particular, gave Baker a a real rough time. Svitek stepped in and started in ten games, and he received almost double the playing time that Baker did in 2011. Although he wasn’t exactly good, Svitek was a significant upgrade from Baker and did a good job considering the circumstances. With Svitek at left tackle actually holding off the opposition, the Falcons passing attack showed noticeable improvement.
Exclusively used as a swing tackle and jumbo tight end in 2010, Svitek showed some solid ability as a backup and is great insurance for the New England Patriots. Sebastian Vollmer will likely stay in New England for at least another year, but it is nice to have another guy just in case something falls through.
The Patriots are reportedly high on Marcus Cannon, and he did show improvement last season after a big game against the New York Jets on Thanksgiving. However, I am still very leery about his ability to start if Vollmer isn’t retained, and Svitek would be great veteran insurance for Cannon to help ease the transition and make sure the Pats aren’t stuck with somebody who can’t make the jump yet.
The great thing here is that Svitek almost certainly came dirt cheap for the Patriots, and he is a good backup swing tackle to have even if the Patriots keep Vollmer. Depth at the offensive tackle position was an issue last season, and Vollmer’s health isn’t exactly certain going forward. The added depth will help the Patriots out, and Svitek fits in perfectly as a backup.
Overall, I like this insurance signing for the Patriots, but Svitek’s roster spot in 2013 isn’t a guarantee. While I think he has a solid shot at making the Pats 53-man roster crunchdown, that all depends on how fast Cannon has developed and what goes down in the coming days between the Pats and Sebastian Vollmer.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.