Patriots

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 offensive tackles from elite group

2020 NFL Draft player rankings: Top 10 offensive tackles from elite group

There are two position groups that really stand out in the 2020 NFL Draft. One is wide receiver. And the other is offensive tackle.

It seems possible that six or seven tackles could be selected in the first round. There are a lot of highly skilled linemen in this class, including some excellent athletes who figure to be plug-and-play NFL starters. And even those that may need a bit more seasoning could be quality starters down the road if given time to work with NFL coaching staffs.

The Patriots may not necessarily have a huge need on the offensive line. Isaiah Wynn was solid at left tackle when healthy last year while Marcus Cannon has been a long-time starter at right tackle. But beyond those two, the team doesn't have a lot of proven options.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Last year's third-round pick, Yodny Cajuste, could be developed as a swing tackle. But perhaps the Patriots will look to get him some competition for that role after he missed most of last season with an injury. And Cannon, who will turn 32 in May, might be showing signs of slowing down, so the team could start looking for a replacement for him.

With so many mid-round picks in such a deep tackle class, the Patriots could look to take advantage of it and add some extra blocking. Here are the top 10 offensive tackles that will interest them and other NFL teams come April 23-25.

1. Tristan Wirfs

College: Iowa
Class: Junior
2019 stats: Two sacks allowed

Wirfs was a long-time starter at right tackle for the Hawkeyes and he absolutely blew up the NFL Combine. Standing at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, Wirfs blazed a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash, a 7.65 in the 3-cone drill, and recorded an absurd 121-inch broad jump. He clearly has the athleticism and movement skills needed to be a quality addition anywhere on the offensive line and he could challenge for a spot in the top five on draft day.

Projected Round: First (Top 10)

2. Mekhi Becton

College: Louisville
Class: Junior
2019 stats: One sack allowed

The only lineman who might've had a more impressive combine than Wirfs was Becton. The Louisville product stands a towering 6-7 and is 364 pounds, yet he managed to run the 40 in 5.1 seconds flat. That's insanity for a man that large. Becton is a bit raw, but he frequently steamrolled players in ACC action in 2019. Some team will look at him as their left tackle of the future and he will surely garner a lot of consideration from tackle-needy teams in the top 10.

Projected Round: First (Top 10)

3. Andrew Thomas

College: Georgia
Class: Junior
2019 stats: One sack allowed

Thomas isn't as athletic as Wirfs or Becton. But man is he consistent. Thomas (6-5, 315) was a well-rounded player for Georgia, succeeding as a pass blocker and run blocker for the Bulldogs. He helped keep Jake Fromm clean but also opened massive holes for the vaunted Georgia ground game. He should find success as a steady tackle.

Projected Round: First (Top 15)

4. Jedrick Wills

College: Alabama
Class: Junior
2019 stats: One sack allowed

Wills rounds out the top-four tackles who all should be top-15 picks. Wills was a strong blocker on the right side for Alabama and showed off great athletic ability at the NFL Combine. He has a bit less length on his 6-4, 312-pound frame than the other top tackles, but that shouldn't hold him back in the NFL. He's agile and should find success at either tackle spot, though he may be better suited to play the right side as he did at Alabama.

Projected Round: First (Top 15)

5. Austin Jackson

College: USC
Class: Junior
2019 stats: Four sacks allowed

Jackson struggled to start the season for USC but he got better as the season went along. There was actually a very good reason for that. Jackson donated bone marrow to his sister, Autumn, to help her fight a rare genetic disorder in the summer of 2019 yet still returned to start Week 1 for the Trojans. It took him some time to get his feet back under him, but once he did, he looked like a top prospect again. Jackson has a nice 6-5, 322-pound frame and NFL teams will like his natural athletic ability.

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

6. Josh Jones

College: Houston
Class: Redshirt senior
2019 stats: One sack allowed

Need an argument for why Jones should be a first-round pick? Just listen to what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about him on a recent episode of The Next Pats Podcast:

"[Jones] only had four pressures allowed all season long. He went to the Senior Bowl and was the highest-graded offensive tackle there in one-on-ones, like he has all the length, size, athleticism to play tackle. He's done it at a really high level. He's a guy who's like, raw with his feet, but the fact he's still getting the job done at a high level -- it almost pushes him up the board. The fact that he has things that can be improved but is already playing like an elite-level tackle."

Projected Round: Late First/Early Second

7. Isaiah Wilson

College: Georgia
Class: Redshirt sophomore
2019 stats: One sack allowed

Wilson was the bookend to Andrew Thomas at Georgia and had a lot of success on the right side of the line. He has a huge 6-6, 350-pound frame and he could be a left tackle candidate in the NFL even though he's mostly played on the right side. In a weaker tackle class, he'd likely be a first-round pick. But with so much competition, he's probably more likely to go on Day 2.

Projected Round: Second

8. Prince Tega Wanogho

College: Auburn
Class: Senior
2019 stats: Zero sacks allowed

Wanogho is another great athlete at tackle and has solid size as well at 6-5, 307. He's a bit raw and will take time to develop. But after being the primary starter at left tackle for Auburn the past two seasons, he will have a chance to become a starter. It just may take him longer than the other top prospects on the board.

Projected Round: Second

9. Ezra Cleveland

College: Boise State
Class: Redshirt Junior
2019 stats: Three sacks allowed

Cleveland has impressive athletic ability that he showed at the NFL Combine by running a sub-5 time in the 40 (4.93). He's still filling out his 6-6, 311 frame and could stand to add some extra muscle, but he logged 30 bench press reps at the Combine and blocked well for Boise State last season. If he can add muscle to deal with power rushers, he should be able to find a home at tackle in the NFL.

Projected Round: Second or Third

10. Matt Peart

College: UConn
Class: Redshirt Senior
2019 stats: Two sacks allowed

Peart started for four years at UConn playing guard and tackle. His versatility is great as is his size (6-7, 318). At the Combine, Peart showed off really good athletic ability with a 5.06 time in the 40 and looked good all-around in the workouts. He could end up being a nice value pick and, like Wanogho and Wilson, could've gone higher in a weaker tackle class.

Projected Round: Third

Listen and subscribe to Phil Perry's Next Pats Podcast here: 

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Did the 2001 New England Patriots believe they were launching a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XXXVI? Probably not.

But the defending Super Bowl champions appear a bit more confident.

Days after signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the richest contract in North American sports, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract extension with defensive tackle Chris Jones, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

So, how did Jones celebrate his new deal with Kansas City? By declaring an apparent continuation of the Chiefs' "dynasty."

Jones has every reason to be confident in his team, which kept its core intact after winning Super Bowl LIV and is the current Super Bowl LV favorite.

But Patriots fans who watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lead New England to six championships over two decades might view Jones' "dynasty" talk as premature.

After all, no team has won back-to-back titles since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and no team aside from New England and Seattle (2013 and 2014) has even reached the Super Bowl in back-to-back years since 2000.

And after signing Cam Newton, the Patriots may believe their own dynasty isn't dead yet despite Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

History won't stop Jones and the Chiefs from setting lofty goals, however, as Mahomes said recently he's eyeing Brady's record of six Super Bowl titles. Better get started soon.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Hypocrisy for Patriots fans to root for Tom Brady, but not Cam Newton

Hypocrisy for Patriots fans to root for Tom Brady, but not Cam Newton

If you rooted for Tom Brady and don’t root for Cam Newton, you are a hypocrite. 

In 2014, the Patriots started the season 2-2 and after a humiliating loss on Monday Night Football in Kansas City, some idiot — that would be me — declared that the Pats had lost their soul.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Of course, I was wrong, as the greatest quarterback ever went on to the lead the Pats to their fourth Super Bowl win with a big assist from Malcolm Butler. 

That was Part 2 of the "Tom Brady: Me Against the World" trilogy.

Of course, the original was getting drafted as a sixth-round pick out of Michigan. Part 3 was Deflategate when Brady won his fifth Super Bowl after he was suspended for four games.

For the purpose of this writing, we focus on Part 2 because some thought Brady’s best days were behind him. (Many feel the same about Cam Newton now.) Even Bill Belichick said Tom was getting older and the plans for his successor in Jimmy Garoppolo were laid out before us ... and Brady.  

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

But once again, Brady defied the odds and forced Belichick to trade Jimmy G. to San Francisco. Needing to prove he still had "it," Brady reinvented himself and became a physical specimen, defying Father Time.

Can Cam Newton do the same? He is not as old now as Brady was then, but this guy was left for dead by the rest of the NFL and has even more to prove than Brady ever did.

If you backed Tom Brady, how can you not do the same for Cam?

Look, I love Tom Brady the football player. Off the field, I think he’s lost his mind, but there has been no better player in the history of sports than TB12. (See Tom, I used your logo. Happy?)

However, right now I am in Cam’s corner like I was in Brady’s when he was a Patriot. And you should be too.