New England Patriots 53-man 2018 Roster Projection v1.0: Guard and Center

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady /

With minicamp underway, we take a look at what the New England Patriots might look like at center and guard in 2018.

Parts one through four of 12 looked at the offensive skill positions and part five started the analysis of the offensive line for the New England Patriots. Part six continues with a look at the interior offensive line delving into the guard and center positions:


Starter: Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason,

Back-up(s): Ted Karras

Roster Bubble Boy(s): Luke Bowanko, James Ferentz, Jason King


The one weak spot has been the interior of the New England offensive line the past few season. Since shipping guard Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay before the 2014 season, the Patriots have filled in the middle of the offensive line with mid-round draft picks and undrafted free agents.

The past two seasons have seen the Patriots settle on 2016 third round draft pick Joe Thuney at left guard, undrafted free agent find David Andrews at center, and 2015 fourth round draft pick Shaq Mason at left guard. The trio has played well enough to start the past two Super Bowls, but the team may be looking for upgrades in the near future.

Mason is the best of the bunch and a devastating run blocker. Mason is the pulling guard with quick feet and excellent technique and leverage in the running game. Coming from run-heavy Georgia Tech, Mason still has hiccups in pass blocking. He is also in the final year of his rookie deal and there has not been much news about he and the team working towards a contract extension.

At center, the steady play of David Andrews is a boon to the offensive line. Andrews is neither a mammoth physical force nor an especially athletic specimen like Mason next to him. What he is, however, is a solid technician who understand leverage and uses his strong lower body to play bigger than his size. Andrews was recently signed to a contract extension and should be a mainstay in the middle of the offensive line in Foxboro.

At left guard Thuney seemingly took a step backwards in year two after a strong rookie season. Whether Thuney holds onto his spot at left guard is a storyline for training camp. Thuney had foot surgery this spring and rookie first round draft pick Isaiah Wynn may be an option to slide into the left guard spot if Thuney is not able to go come the fall. With Wynn’s potential, Thuney–who has missed less than ten snaps over two years–could end up on the bench where he can be a backup at guard and tackle (he was a solid tackle at North Carolina State).

Ted Karras–a 2016 sixth round draft pick–is a solid backup at guard and center and can hop off the bench for a spot start in a pinch. This is the first season he should see some serious competition in his quest to return for another season in New England. Karras is limited athletically, but with a high motor he is a favorite of the coaches. He is locked into a backup role on the roster and is not expected to push Thuney for a starting spot.

On the Bubble:

Luke Bowanko is a center first and foremost and he also played guard (and can jump in at tackle in a pinch). A sixth round draft pick by Jacksonville, he was traded to Baltimore at the end of training camp last year. Bowanko is not a competitor for a starting role but a serious contender for Karras’ spot as a swing interior lineman.

James Ferentz (son of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz) spent last season with the Patriots on the practice squad. He had played 19 games with the Denver Broncos in 2015 and 2016 after having spent a year on the Houston Texans’ practice squad in 2014 after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He can play guard and center, but is unlikely to crack the roster.

The same goes for Jason King. King was an undrafted free agent out of Purdue who was re-signed again after having been released already this spring. King was waived at final cuts after training camp last year and ended up on the practice squad. He was released from the Practice squad and ended up on Baltimore’s practice squad. He was signed to the practice squad again last year and on the 90-man roster this offseason. King is a longshot as he has good size but lacks athleticism and elite strength.

Next: Ranking the 10 greatest quarterbacks in franchise history

Final Word:

At this time it seems most likely that Thuney (if healthy), Andrews and Mason should all be back in the starting lineup in 2018. The big battle inside will be between Bowanko and Karras for the backup role as only one spot may be available due to the continual need for additional depth at tackle.