Because of the apparent needs on the offensive side of the ball, seeing the Patriots not make any offensive selections until the fourth round of the draft was shocking.
That changed, however, as they took a pair of offensive linemen, followed by another one in the fifth round, drafting a center and two guards so far through the first five rounds of the draft.
A trio of versatile and experienced offensive linemen, both of which are essential qualities for Bill Belichick as he continues to retool his offensive line, a decision he made last year by drafting Cole Strange in the first round of last year’s draft.
The first offensive player the Patriots drafted was a center in the fourth round, Jake Andrews, out of Troy. He is 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, and has the skills to play along the interior of the offensive line. In addition, he comes with plenty of experience from Troy, as he logged 2,796 career snaps and only allowed six sacks in 1,653 career pass-blocking play calls.
Andrews played as a true freshman in 2018 and played in every game as a red-shirt freshman in 2019 before becoming the full-time starter for the Trojans in 2020. He excels as a run and pass blocker and can be used at either guard position in addition to center. Drafted as a center, Andrews will likely be the backup for long-time Pats center David Andrews, but his versatility will be an asset for New England.
The next offensive lineman the Patriots drafted was guard Sidy Sow out of Eastern Michigan. He is 6-foot-5, 323 pounds, and started 55 games at two positions throughout his college career— 44 at left guard and 11 at left tackle. So Sow, a First-team All-MAC lineman, comes to New England with plenty of experience.
Sow will join an offensive line that currently starts Cole Strange and Michael Onwenu at guard. He’s only 25 years old and maneuvers his body exceptionally well for a player of his size, clocking in the 40-yard dash at 5.07 seconds. It’s worth mentioning that Onwenu is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
After a trade, the Patriots received a fifth-round pick and used it to draft offensive guard Atonio Mafi out of UCLA, 144th overall. In 2018, Mafi was recruited as a defensive lineman, making 44 tackles in two years before transitioning to the other side of the ball in 2020.
At 6-foot-4, 339 pounds, Mafi started in all 13 games at left guard and finished his career having played in 56 games, tying the school record. He helped create paths for UCLA to average over 200 rushing yards for three straight years and produced a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 1985.
Mafi had an impressive combine, running the 40-yard dash in 5.35 seconds and 21 reps on the bench press. He is a perfect combination of size and speed for an interior offensive lineman. Like Sow, however, Mafi will be behind Strange and Onwenu at the start of training camp.