The New England Patriots enter the 2023 season with questions remaining at several positions. Some positions like offensive guard were addressed rather effectively this offseason while others conversely were not.
The most important unit on any NFL team after the quarterbacks is the offensive line. And the key position on the offensive line is the left tackle, the most important single position on the team after the starting quarterback.
Let's take a look at the offensive tackles, point out two positives, and then assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the unit looking forward to the 2023 season.
The New England Patriots best offensive tackle
There is no doubt whatsoever as to who the New England Patriots best offensive tackle is. It's Trent Brown. At his best, Brown is a formidable blindside protector for the New England Patriots quarterback whoever he may be.
Brown's problem of late has been his inconsistency, and, well, his conditioning. If he's tuned in, at 6'8" tall and about 380 pounds or so, he's an almost immovable and impassable object. When motivated and in shape, he's a top NFL left tackle.
The New England Patriots have to hope that Brown is ready when the NFL season begins. If not, they have big problems no matter who is under center or at the skill positions. No tackle, no way, is the reality of the situation.
The top (and maybe only real) positive is thus riddled with question marks for the New England Patriots and the position remains fraught with question marks.
The New England Patriots second positive at offensive tackle
The New England Patriots' second positive at offensive tackle is a rather difficult one to propose. It may be a stretch to even offer one but here goes. The positive is that the team sought to address the position in free agency.
How well they addressed it is subject to interpretation. They signed 34-year-old NFL veteran, Riley Reiff. Reiff is an experienced tackle, presumably slated to start at the right tackle position. Yet, he's a stop-gap solution at best and early indications are less than stellar.
Also added in free agency was a former New England Patriots who was cut from the team in 2019, Calvin Anderson. Neither Anderson nor Sean McDermott, re-signed after 2022 elicits much excitement. They are waiver-wire caliber players who hopefully can fill in if one of the presumptive starters is injured.
Again, the positive is that the team sought to address the offensive tackle position in free agency. The question is how well they accomplished their goal.
Evalution of the New England Patriots offensive tackle position
With one hopeful top positive in Trent Brown and a positive of sorts in that the team sought to address the position in free agency, what is the overall evaluation and grade of the position at present?
Brown's questionable status at left tackle and the lack of a true starting player at right tackle leaves the situation riddled with uncertainty as the 2023 season approaches.
The New England Patriots neglected to sign a top free-agent offensive tackle, e.g. Orlando Brown Jr. or Mike McGlinchey, and instead went on the cheap in signing lesser-talented players instead.
Compounding that mistake, the team neglected to draft even one true offensive tackle with any of their 12 draft picks in April. The only possible addition therein was Sidy Sow, a guard who has played some tackle in the past at Eastern Michigan. That was it and it wasn't nearly enough.
These two gaffes lead to an inescapable conclusion that the offensive tackle position is a serious weakness in 2023 at present and needs rectifying before play begins.
The inescapable grade with all this in mind is easy. It's a C-/D+ with the higher C- grade assuming that the best version of Trent Brown appears by September. If not, even a D+ may be a reach.
What do you think of the New England Patriots' situation at offensive tackle? We'd like to hear.