Patriots

Patriots

University of Houston star Josh Jones is one of the best left tackle prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he will be plenty busy talking with teams in the near future.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that Jones will video conference with many clubs, including the New England Patriots. Teams are conducting pre-draft interviews with prospects using various video platforms due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has prevented scouts and other club employees from traveling and having face-to-face meetings with players.

The Patriots offensive line was ravaged by injuries last season, including the left tackle spot, where 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn played in just eight games after suffering a foot injury in Week 2. Veteran center David Andrews missed the entire 2019 campaign due to blood clots, and his replacement, Ted Karras, left in free agency to join the Miami Dolphins last month.

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Bolstering the depth of the offensive line should be a priority for the Patriots in the 2020 draft, and Jones certainly is among the top tackles to target. Our own Patriots insider, Phil Perry, had New England trading down in the first round of his latest 2020 NFL mock draft and taking Jones with the No. 27 pick.

Here's what Perry wrote about Jones:

He may not be as ready to go on Day 1 as Thomas or some others, but the Patriots may not need him that early. He'll have the ability to go onto the Nate Solder plan — remember they drafted Solder in the first when Matt Light was still on the roster — and take a year to develop before he's thrust into a key spot. He'll learn behind Marcus Cannon and then have the chance to take over that right tackle job in 2021. With a year of seasoning, Jones — who had several different offensive line coaches during his time as a four-year starter in Houston — could end up being an even better player than the more pro-ready Thomas.

 

Jones, at 6-foot-5, 319 pounds and with 34-inch arms, has plenty of length and mass on his frame. He's also an explosive athlete at that size (109-inch broad jump) and has plenty of tape that shows he's more than "athletic enough," which is how Dante Scarnecchia used to describe the movement skills required for players in his meeting room.

The Patriots currently own the No. 23 pick in the first round, and based on many mock drafts, Jones should be available at that point. New England has 12 picks in the 2020 draft overall, but only one in the top 86. The Patriots don't own a second-round pick, and that puts more pressure on them to nail their first-rounder.