Joe Thuney has established himself as one of the elite guards in the league.
The Patriots offensive line struggled at times last season with injuries and inconsistency. It showed in the performance of the offense at times and perhaps no player showed that frustration more than former quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady is gone now so the onus will be on this unit even more now to protect a new quarterback and to open up holes in the running game.
The offensive line will already look drastically different with right tackle Marcus Cannon opting out for the season due to COVID-19. There will be anew starter at right tackle.
Cannon’s absence isn’t the only thing difference you’ll notice this season. Long time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia finally retired after 34 years with the organization. Scarnecchia was such an integral part of the organization, that Bill Belichick hired two coaches to replace him in Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo.
Popovich and Bricillo will have big shoes to fill but they do have a talented offensive line returning to work with.
Here is a look at the top eight offensive lineman on the Patriots depth chart.
Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia, 6’2 311, 3rd Year: Wynn only started eight games last season as injuries were once an issue for him.
When healthy, Wynn played well at left tackle despite being undersized for the position, Wynn moves well vertically and laterally in the run game and has proven he can handle power rushers on the edge despite not having the requisite length for a left tackle.
The Patriots need a full season out of Wynn with a new quarterback under center. He need to solidify the backside of the offensive line.
Joe Thuney, OG, N.C State. 6-5 308, 4th Year: Thuney emerged as one of the top guards in the NFL last season. The Patriots opted to franchise him this off-season and are paying him $14.5 million for the season.
Thuney is worth every penny. He did not allow a sack last season. He is not only one of the best pass blockers in the league, he is also dominant run blocker.
On top of all that, he offers versatility. He can play guard or ya Ole if needed.
David Andrews, C, Georgia, 6-3 300, 4th season: Andrews missed the 2019 season with a pulmonary embolism. His absence was noticeable as the Patriots offensive line struggled with consistent last season.
The return of Andrews gives the Patriots not only their anchor back in the middle but some much needed leadership that they were missing last season. Getting Andrews back is welcomed news.
Shaq Mason, OG, Georgia Tech, 6-1 311, 6th year: Mason really struggled last season and looked nothing like the pro bowler he was in 2018.
If this group is to regain its swagger if you will, it starts with Mason. He needs to be better. Period!
Mason is undersized so he has to win with fundamentals and technique. If he cannot do that on a consistent basis, he will struggle to hold up inside against the bigger defensive tackles in the league.
Korey Cunningham, OT, Cincinnati, 6-6 308, 3rd Year: Cunningham is the presumptive front runner to be the starting right tackle but there will be competition at the position.
Cunningham certainly has the size to be a starting right tackle in the NFL but injuries and inconsistency have been an issue. He must overcome those issues if he wants to beat out Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron and anyone else to replace Marcus Cannon.
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia, 6-5 311, 2nd Year: Cajuste missed all of last season with a quad injury. He projects more as a left tackle but he will be in the running to start at right tackle.
Cajuste has intriguing size and attributes but he must play with better technique and bend. Something he struggled with at times.
Justin Herron, OT, Wake Forest, 6-5 304, Rookie: I really like Herron. He is smart, tough and fundamentally sound. He is a Bill Belichick type of football player.
Herron is more than capable of winning the starting right tackle job if the competition for it is truly open.
Michael Onwenu, 6-3 375, Michigan, Rookie: Onwenu is a terrific run blocker. He gets ideal position and ideal movement but he needs to be a little more consistent.
Onwenu can stand to lose about 20 pounds. Despite being athletic for his size, he might move even better.