The New England Patriots added depth to their offensive line by drafting three linemen, with one of them being center Dustin Woodard out of Memphis.
And although he has been medically cleared to return to football activities, the Patriots don’t really know what kind of physical condition Andrews is currently in — making the drafting of Dustin Woodard a reasonable selection.
Woodard is 6’2, 291 lbs, and received a full NFL workload while playing for the Memphis Tigers. He set the school record for most games played (54) by an offensive lineman and for the most consecutive starts (52) by an offensive lineman.
Woodard is versatile and actually played both guard positions before transitioning into a full-time center. He immediately adds depth to a Patriots offensive line that only had one true center on its roster heading into the draft.
While at Memphis, Woodard immediately understood the offense and quickly became an integral player on a team that involved a lot of moving pieces to make work in a pro style zone-read based set offense.
This can be a thing of beauty if you know what to look for. It gave Woodard the necessary experience he needed to become an impact starting lineman in the NFL.
It also gives Patriots head coach Bill Belichick more options to utilize Woodard other than just as a center if the opportunity presents itself.
Although he wasn’t present for any combine events, scouts believe Woodard would have ran the 40 yard dash in 5.10 seconds, which isn’t too shabby for a lineman. Throughout his college career, he has proven to be both coachable and versatile, and that’s going to be key for him on a tightly-run ship by the New England Patriots.
Woodard joins a strong offensive line that seems to now be led by veterans David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, and Shaq Mason. It also includes one of the NFL’s top offensive guards, Joe Thuney, and third-year big man Isaiah Wynn, who still has yet to be healthy for a full season.
Woodard also joins a Patriots draft class that includes two other offensive lineman.
It’ll be interesting to see how the New England Patriots go about their offensive line this year in the first season without their longtime coach and master technician, Dante Scarnecchia. It’s fair to say that Scarnecchia would have been impressed by Woodard and coached him up to his full potential, making him one of the most versatile and interchangeable offensive linemen in the league.
Woodard realistically has the chance to see playing time early in his career due to his athleticism and multidimensionality, making him the backup in multiple positions throughout the entire offensive line — which sets him apart from most offensive linemen.
Woodard was an excellent selection with plenty of experience, and could eventually be a steal coming from the seventh round of the draft.