The selection of Joe Thuney with the 78th overall pick means the Patriots hit a need position at offensive tackle.
Thuney played tackle on right and left side and, while he’s small relative to the Patriots mountainous starting tackles (6-5, 295 pounds), he will likely have a redshirt year to get used to the pro game. That’s what happened with left tackle Nate Solder when he was drafted in 2011 and Matt Light was still manning left tackle.
With Vollmer getting closer to the end, Thuney could conceivably play on the edge but he also has the versatility to play all five offensive line spots. The Patriots don’t need him at all five. They are two deep at center with Bryan Stork and David Andrews, seem set at guard with Tre Jackson, Josh Kline and Shaq Mason.
The depth behind Solder and Vollmer is where the concern is. Marcus Cannon hasn’t developed any consistency and Cameron Fleming is entering his third season but remains nothing to get excited about. L’Adrian Waddle was an in-season pickup the Patriots re-signed but he’s in the same boat as the other two. Keavon Martin and Chris Barker are end of the roster guys.
Thuney’s got a huge brain. He earned his degree in three years and is working on another in international studies with a minor in Spanish. While he’s seen as an aggressive, lunch pail guy with good feet but a little bit of body stiffness and no natural position, he’s got a lot of the traits the Patriots adore in terms of smarts, aggressiveness, versatility and coachability.