Patriots

Patriots

The best news to come out of Patriots training camp is the emergence of Trent Brown as a very good solution at left tackle after the loss of Nate Solder to free agency.

You've heard Brown, a trade acquisition over the offseason for minimal draft capital, go from being described as looking better than expected to looking like an actual player. On Thursday's "Felger and Mazz," Greg Bedard repeatedly said Brown has been "awesome" and looks like a "franchise left tackle." Mike Giardi said he's "dominating" in camp. 

That was easy. 

This isn't what's supposed to happen. When you lose your starting left tackle of several years to free agency, then don't get a bonafide experienced left tackle to replace him, you're supposed to be a mess on the offensive line. 

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But instead, it seems the Patriots will be OK, or even better than that. Brown is a 6-foot-8, 355-pound planet and is only 25 years old. Moving down a round and a half in the late third to get this guy could go down as a coup and a half. 

It's not like the Patriots placed all their eggs in Brown's basket. They invested a first-round pick on a tackle (Isaiah Wynn), but the idea of him sliding in to replace Solder on the left side seemed risky. The Brown trade was seemingly part of the plan. Now it might be the whole plan. 

If Brown becomes what observers think he might, it will be the latest case of the Patriots not experiencing certain problems the way other teams do. Other teams don't have Dante Scarnecchia as their offensive line coach (they have the 31 offensive line coaches, none of whom we can name) to turn someone else into The Guy when The Guy leaves. 

 

When you look at the Patriots during the Brady era, they've gone from years of certainty with Matt Light to years of certainty with Nate Solder. It's easy to argue that the most questions anyone has had about the Pats' offensive line were 2014 and 2015, which were the two years that Scarnecchia spent retiring before returning. The Pats still won a Super Bowl in one of those years. 

It's not like other problems don't persist. The wide receiver situation is dire, even if we're overstating how dire it is. If Kenny Britt is healthy by the start of the season and Eric Decker even has a little left in the tank, Tom Brady should be able to duct-tape something together for a month until he has Julian Edelman back. 

But offensive line was supposed to be just as big a question. So far, it isn't. Trent Brown could be another name in the long list of players -- Mike Vrabel, Randy Moss, etc. -- for whom the Patriots gave up little and from whom they got a lot. 

Of course, the Patriots make plenty of bad trades. Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick looks like a bigger ripoff than perhaps any steal the Patriots have executed. 

But you take the bad with the good, and it's often good for the Patriots. Other teams can't bank on turning someone else's so-so player into a potential stud. The Patriots can, as if they needed any more advantages over the rest of the league the last two decades. 

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