Top analysts rank Patriot's O-line near the bottom of the NFL

No surprise, Pro Football Focus pans the Pats' offensive line
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The New England Patriots offensive line has been a weakness for a few years, especially when a
healthy and well-motivated Trent Brown wasn’t at left tackle (LT). Few and poor investments by Bill Belichick didn't help matters.

Experiments with former first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn, a good college left tackle lacking the requisite size to play LT in the NFL, were a flop. Bill Belichick also wasted a first-round pick on a guard, Cole Strange, in 2022. He was projected as a third-rounder or so. He's also been a dud.

Now, this offensive line's weakness has been pointed out starkly by one of the best analytical outfits in the business. Pro Football Focus (PFF), in a recent ranking of NFL offensive lines, panned the Pats' version. One thing is sure: there is no offensive line, no way. Let’s take a look at what they said.

Pro Football Focus pans the Pats left tackle situation

Here’s what the well-respected PFF had to say in their evaluation and ranking of the Patriots offensive line 28th overall in the league,


The Patriots would rank even lower had not re-signed Mike Onwenu, who has been arguably their best offensive lineman, to play right tackle. While former Pittsburgh Steeler Chukwuma Okorafor is projected to start at left tackle, he has just two career snaps there.

New England can find itself further up on this list if its young guards — Cole Strange and Sidy Sow — show improvement in 2024.”

The key aspect of their evaluation is as plain as the proverbial nose on your face. The team is entering its 2024 summer camp without a left tackle. On the list of atrocious omissions an NFL team can commit in any offseason, left tackle ranks second on the hit parade after quarterback.

The Pats had no defined quarterback last season, and the season went downhill fast. They also had a less-than-motivated and injury-prone Trent Brown at left tackle. Those two deficiencies led to a 4-13 record and last place in the AFC East.

The new personnel head, Eliot Wolf, moved quickly and decisively to shore up necessity number one by drafting QB Drake Maye as the third-overall pick in the NFL draft. Regrettably, for his team and reputation, he flunked, adding the second most important position, left tackle at all. Effectively, there isn't one on the Patriots' roster.

Interestingly, PFF also noted that they'd have ranked even lower if the Pats had not re-signed Mike Onwenu, the team’s best lineman. Ranked 28 of 32, there’s not too much further to fall. It’s a
telling commentary. But the guard position is loaded with higher draft picks, none of whom have any real track record. Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi, Jake Andrews, Cole Strange, and the newly drafted Layden Robinson are all untested or average.

Why left tackle and the rest of the O-line can sink the Pats’ hopes

Wolf had every opportunity to remedy the left tackle situation in free agency or the draft. Admittedly, the pickings were slim in free agency. Yet, any left tackle addition would have been better than trying to shoehorn a right tackle like Okorafor or draftee Caedan Wallace into that critical spot.

Wolf's even worse decision was to fail to expend even one draft pick (it should have been two) on a left tackle. He had two available in the second round when the Pats picked who were plug-and-play caliber players. They were Kingsley Suamataia of BYU and Patrick Paul of Houston, consensus top left tackles. Either starts from Day One. Wolf inexplicably punted.

While his actual pick, wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk has nice potential, playing without a left tackle, the
offense will likely flounder. Only one option can prevent that: starting your super-mobile and versatile rookie QB, Drake Maye, from the outset.

This group may instead start journeyman backup Jacoby Brissett, a $8M free agent flier signed by Wolf. It was a misguided and head-scratching move when it was crystal clear they had to draft a quarterback high up in the draft, and he had to play.

No matter who starts at QB, a 28th-rated offensive line with no real left tackle is a monster problem. It didn’t need to be, but the Pats’ personnel department allowed it to happen. You'd think a department loaded with experienced NFL hands wouldn’t be misguided enough to neglect the second most important position on the team. Unfortunately, they did. Completely.

Any NFL team’s success ultimately rides on the big guys up front on offense. They make the running and passing games work to score points, control the clock, and keep your defense fresh. This outfit doesn't understand that. Unless and until they do, or if they possibly wake up and start Drake Maye from the get-go, don't expect much other than last place. Again. It's exactly what you're going to get.

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