INDIANAPOLIS — Depending on what happens with free agent Sebastian Vollmer  this offseason, the Patriots could enter the draft either looking to add offensive line depth or needing to add a starter at right tackle.
Should the Patriots not re-sign or franchise Vollmer, one intriguing option in the second or third round would be Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner, who met with a Patriots scout Wednesday night.
Wagner’s an interesting prospect. He’s a tight-end-turned-tackle, a la Nate Solder , and he went from a lanky walk-on as a freshman to a legitimate NFL left or right tackle prospect who arrived at the scooting combine in at 6-foot-6 and 308.9 pounds. Plus, he’s an offensive lineman from Wisconsin. That’s got to be worth something, as there have been 14 Badger offensive linemen drafted in the last 12 years.
“It’s like having a whole new set of coaches with you,” Wagner said of the Wisconsin O-line. “They’re the best at their position, and you just try to mimic their game.”
The Wisconsin native never played tackle in high school (he was a tight end throughout) and weighed 195 pounds as a sophomore before bulking up and eventually moving to the offensive line.
“I came out of high school at about 260 as a tight end, took about a year to get to 300,” he said. “So over the course of my freshman, sophomore year I put on about 40 to 50 pounds.”
Despite being rated the ninth-best player (and top tight end) in the state of Wisconsin coming out of high school, Wagner elected to take his chances walking on at Wisconsin in hopes of earning a scholarship. He said it had long been a “dream” of his to attend Wisconsin, and it all worked out pretty well.
“It’s something I’m very proud of, being a walk-on and earning that scholarship,” he said. “It’s been a long ride, but I’m very thankful that I got the opportunity to go to Wisconsin.”
Wagner started 10 games at right tackle as a sophomore before making the move to left tackle for the last two seasons. He said Thursday that he’d have “no problem playing right tackle or even guard.”
Keep an eye out for Wagner. With Wisconsin’s reputation for churning out professional linemen — Joe Thomas , Gabe Carimi, and Kevin Zeitler among many, many more — he might be worth it come late April.