Feeling the draft: Tackles
|01.21.10 at 5:00 am ET|
WEEI.com is the place to be for everything you need to know about the 2010 NFL Draft. We’re kicking off the draft coverage by going through the Patriots depth chart, position by position, and telling you which players the Pats could target come late April.
State of the position: Matt Light (1 year remaining), Mark LeVoir (2 years remaining), Sebastian Vollmer (3 years remaining), Nick Kaczur (3 years remaining).
Turns out the collective “Who?!” from the nation following the 58th pick in last year’s draft was unwarranted, as Vollmer, a guy who wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine, proved to be one of the more valuable players on the line in his rookie year. If the Patriots were so inclined they could dump Light and his $4.5 million 2010 salary in order to give the 6-foot-7 Vollmer a full-time job at left tackle. The more likely scenario may be that Light sticks around and Vollmer stays at right tackle over Kaczur, who is affordable even as a backup. Should both Light and Kaczur stick around, there likely won’t be a need for a tackle early in the draft.
Potential free agents of note: Marcus McNeill (restricted), Willie Colon (restricted), Jared Gaither (restricted).
TACKLES IN THE DRAFT TO KEEP AN EYE ON:
Ciron Black: Senior, LSU, 6-foot-5, 325 pounds.
What he brings: Run-blocking, durability.
Where the Patriots could get him: Second round.
Remember when Levi Brown (the tackle, not the quarterback), was coming out of Penn State and nobody knew whether to draft him high because he projected to be a right tackle? Remember how the Cardinals had no problem taking him fifth overall because their quarterback, Matt Leinart, was a lefty and Brown would still be protecting the quarterback’s blind side? Well, Matt Leinart’s career happened and the Cardinals have been giving top-five money to a right tackle ever since. Black may be faced with similar scrutiny, as he is a fantastic prospect who was raised by preachers but will likely be a right tackle in the NFL. Some teams could stick him at guard, but the fact that he isn’t a true left tackle should help him fall well into the second round.
Jared Veldheer: Senior, Hillsdale, 6-foot-9, 321 pounds.
What he brings: Size, size, very raw skill set, size.
Where the Patriots could get him: Third round – undrafted.
Whether you’re a fan of the Patriots or not, keep an eye on Veldheer, as it will be interesting to see how his quest for the NFL plays out. Playing his college ball at Division II Hillsdale, he wasn’t exactly on the national stage, but an invitation to next month’s combine should change that. Until then he will remain an intriguing unknown, which explains the very uncertain projection as to where he could be taken. Word is that he is still an underdeveloped prospect and that his size will be what gets him noticed, but doesn’t that sound a bit familiar? It all worked out for the Vollmer, who appeared to be a gigantic reach in ’09 and is now a big part of the Patriots’ future.
Sam Young: Senior, Notre Dame, 6-foot-8, 320 pounds
What he brings: Size, run blocking, experience at left tackle in a pro system.
Where the Patriots could get him: Fourth round – sixth round.
Late-round gigantic tackle. Yes, it could have Ryan O’Callaghan written all over it, but the Patriots really don’t need a starting tackle in this draft and could afford to use a later pick on a guy whose size could pay off down the road. In fact, they really don’t even need to add another tackle at all, but the Pats have drafted at least one in four of the last five drafts, making it likely that training camp should see at least another new face at tackle. Young isn’t the quickest lineman out there but is strong and has the toughness that has made other linemen—notably Logan Mankins in ’05— so attractive to the Patriots.
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