5 offensive linemen the Patriots could have drafted instead of Caedan Wallace

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With the 68th pick of the 2024 NFL draft, the New England Patriots selected Caedan Wallace. He was the 14th tackle taken, but he was ranked 19th-best before the draft and wasn’t expected to be selected until the fifth round.

One projection didn’t see him being selected until the 18th pick.  

Why did they take him? It’s impossible to know; it might be because they’re happy with their offensive line and weren’t looking for a starter, but if that was the play, they didn’t have to take him that high.  

Wallace’s combine performance didn’t stand out. His best performance came on the broad jump, where he was in the 98th percentile. Apart from that, his most impressive measurements were his arm span and hand size. But you shouldn’t pick players in the third round because they’re big if they don't have third-round talent.  

His highlight reel mainly features him run-blocking by mauling defenders out of the way like a grizzly bear. So maybe the Patriots are developing a run-heavy offense, but they also took wide receivers and two quarterbacks.  

Wallace only allowed one sack on the 359 passing snaps he played in 2023. That’s impressive, but according to PFF Wallace’s teammate at Penn State, Olu Fashanu, didn’t allow a single sack over his 681 passing downs.

College evaluators believe Wallace could play at tackle or guard in the NFL, even though he was mainly a right tackle in college. His footwork and lack of explosiveness mean he will probably struggle to block NFL pass rushers effectively. The strangest part of the Wallace pick is that this draft class was loaded with talented linemen.

So, who else could the Patriots have picked instead? 

Cooper Beebe 

Beebe had a 14% chance of being drafted in the first round, and many people expected him to be the Cowboys' second-round pick. Ultimately, he fell to Dallas in the Round 3, at the 73rd spot.  

The Kansas State alum is shorter and lighter than Wallace, but quicker. His 5.03 40-yard dash was in the 93rd percentile for offensive linemen and his 3-cone drill time saw him in the 92nd percentile. There’s no questioning his dynamism or footwork. 

Some have questioned how he will adapt to pass-blocking against NFL defenders. If he has one weakness, it’s his lateral agility; quicker defenders may be able to get past him as he tries to get his hands on them. But if he’s playing on the line's interior, he will have some assistance, which will negate that deficiency. 

Some evaluators believe Beebe could play center for the Cowboys, but in college, he played left tackle and left guard. The 22-year-old made the first team All-Big 12 conference team as a left tackle and was named the offensive lineman of the year at Kansas State in both 2022 and 2023.

How he fell to the third round will remain a mystery for years to come.