Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. A few days ago, we looked at No. 71 Cameron Fleming, and before that it was No. 72 Joe Vellano. Because today marks 69 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 69, offensive lineman Shaq Mason.
The 131st overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Mason is considered to be one of the best run blockers in his class. For a team that is seeing its quarterback enter the twilight years, running the ball will be a central strategy of the Patriots’ offensive attack in the coming years, and Mason represents that shift.
What makes Mason such an elite run blocker, according to this scouting report, is his low pad level, power, and lasting effect when blocking. He bursts off the snap, establishing the advantage against his opponent, and maintains position for the duration of the play.
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It’s those attributes that could land Mason on the starting lineup in Week 1. Right now, the competition for right guard is wide open, with Josh Kline, Cameron Fleming and Ryan Wendell all vying for the job. Mason is a better run blocker than all of those guys, and that could very well be the difference.
Now, it should be noted that Mason isn’t outstanding in pass protection. While he uses his hands well, his short frame and below-NFL average length could present issues. But overall, Mason offers a suitable pass protection technique, so that portion of the game shouldn’t hinder his starting chances too much.
The Patriots are very keen on Mason. With that awesome first name to complement his playing ability, they should be.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 74 Trey Flowers, No. 76 Sebastian Vollmer, No. 77 Nate Solder, No. 80 Danny Amendola, No. 82 Josh Boyce, No. 84 Brian Tyms, No. 85 Jake Bequette, No. 86 A.J. Derby, No. 87 Rob Gronkowski, No. 88 Scott Chandler, No. 90 Zach Moore and No. 91 Jamie Collins.
Be sure to check back on Musket Fire tomorrow morning as we celebrate 68 days until Week 1 by profiling No. 68, tackle Caylin Hauptmann.