Patriots Training Camp Preview, Part 5

Welcome to part 5 of our Patriots Training Camp Preview! If you missed parts 1, 23, 4, click the number to check them out! And yes we can still call it a preview even with camp going on, they haven’t DONE anything of consequence yet, like put pads on! Although this morning “Jesus Christ” utterance by BB would certainly be of consequence to some!

For a couple of reasons there is no good way to know what is going to happen with the Patriots Offensive Line in Training Camp, let alone come the start of the regular season. First is the return of Dante Scarnecchia. I know he values Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, but after that he hasn’t worked with any of these guys other than Marcus Cannon and maybe Josh Kline. Secondly the Patriots typically carry 8 lineman on the 53 man roster and 1 or 2 on the practice squad. They have 16 players in for the start of camp and 11 of those I think could make the 53 man roster depending on training camp and preseason performance. Of that 11 I’m not sure any can be gotten through to the practice squad. Lots of questions so let’s try and figure this out player by player.

One last caveat, I believe in putting your best 5 guys out there and figuring it out, so that is how my starters are reflected below.

77 Solder, Nate 28 6 Colorado
76 Vollmer, Sebastian 32 8 Houston
60 Andrews, David 24 2 Georgia
66 Stork, Bryan 25 3 Florida State
68 Waddle, LaAdrian 25 4 Texas Tech
69 Mason, Shaq 22 2 Georgia Tech
63 Jackson, Tre 23 2 Florida State
65 Cooper, Jonathan 26 3 North Carolina
71 Fleming, Cameron 23 3 Stanford
61 Cannon, Marcus 28 6 Texas Christian
67 Kline, Josh 26 4 Kent State
64 Barker, Chris 25 2 Nevada
74 Milton, Keavon 26 3 Louisiana-Monroe
62 Thuney, Joe 23 R North Carolina State
75 Karras, Ted 23 R Illinois
N/A Kerbyson, Kyler 23 R Tennessee
Nate Solder and Son Hudson looking good on Day 1 of 2016's Training Camp!

Nate Solder and Son Hudson looking good on Day 1 of 2016’s Training Camp!

Missing Nate Solder for the majority 2015 likely cost the Patriots a shot at the Super Bowl. He was seriously hurt and has a very sick son, so that isn’t me throwing blame at Solder, its just a matter of fact that he is better than every other Patriots Offensive lineman and so missing him hurt dramatically. It seems like he is healthy and that he is comfortable returning to the field while his son continues his battle with cancer. This should greatly improve the Patriots offensive line, which we last saw giving free admission the the Denver Broncos defense for hits on Tom Brady.

Missing Sebastian Vollmer at the end of 2015 is the second most likely reason the Patriots didn’t have a shot at the Super Bowl. He is the Patriots second best lineman and his ability to flip flop between right tackle (his primary position) and left tackle (when Solder went out) was greatly missed against any competent edge rushers.

David Andrews got a chance to start at center with Bryan Stork hurt at the beginning 2015 and seemed fine. They move Stork back in until they decided to try Stork at tackle, until Andrews missed the last 2 weeks of the season hurt. He ended up Third on the team in snap percentage and I think it’s likely they look use him as the starting center again in 2016.

Once Stork came back from injury he was a mainstay on the line, moving from center to right tackle even. He’s a hard nosed guy with a slight attitude that I think benefits an offensive lineman between the lines. Can he work with Scarnecchia to get the most out of his talent and become a sort of “super utility” offensive lineman spelling guys at all 5 spots? I think he has the capacity for it. I also think he has the capacity to man center or either guard spot for the next few years as the starter. How they choose to use him is yet to be known, but he is a valuable piece of the puzzle.

LaAdrian Waddle is the man that makes Marcus Cannon expendable. At 6’6’’ 315 Waddle has the size to be a long lean tackle, closer to the style of Solder or Vollmer than Cannon does at 6’5’’ 365. Before getting hurt in Detroit it looked like the Lions had found something in the undrafted rookie from Texas Tech, but couldn’t wait for him after the injury. I think he has the potential and ability to become the starter if Vollmer leaves via free agency, and I think that is exactly why he is on the roster.

Shaq Mason plays one of the guard spots. While he wasn’t great as a rookie he still played 65% of the snaps and is the athletic type of lineman that the Patriots love. It’s not a shock that they took him when they did from Georgia Tech, which requires it’s lineman to know a lot mentally and be able to perform in many ways physically because of its option offense. I expect a sizeable leap in year 2 in the system and with Scarnecchia back in the lead of the lineman.

Tre Jackson plays the other guard spot. I think it’s likely that Stork starts opposite Mason at guard in 2016 and that Jackson slowly evolves into that starting role and we see Stork become that “super utility” lineman I was talking about. Jackson ended up playing over 50% of the snaps in 2015 and I think his role expands in 2016 and beyond.

Jonathan Cooper is the wildcard of this group. He has the talent to be a starter but his performance history would suggest that he will likely be cut by the start of the season. The former first round pick under performed for the Arizona Cardinals and got flipped to New England with a draft pick for Chandler Jones. Could a change of scenery return Cooper to the level of play that got him drafted in the top 10? Only time will tell.

Cameron Fleming has served a few different roles with the Pats, but hasn’t excelled at any of them consistently. Sometimes a tackle, sometimes a heavy TE, he likely has a spot on the roster because he has size, intelligence and flexibility. Maybe the coaching change brings out the best in Fleming, and maybe he just gets cut.

Marcus Cannon, cut. I think bringing in Waddle, if Waddle is healthy, spells the end for Cannon. I’m not sure how the dollars and cents work out because I know Cannon makes a decent amount of money, but he was terrible more often than not in 2015 and makes every member of Patriots Nation nervous. He was best under Scarnecchia, can the return of the coach return Cannon to the form that earned him that contract extension? I don’t think so.

Josh Kline led the Patriots in snap percentage played in 2015 and personally I think that is a problem. I think it is why they drafted Mason and Jackson in the 4th round in 2015 and traded for the high profile Cooper. Kline has been fine as a player, but I tend to think the Patriots would like to upgrade from the good Kline to a more dominant Mason, Jackson or Cooper.

Chris Barker only got 9 snaps in 2015 and I think that means he isn’t long for the roster. I think that he could end up on the practice squad if the Patriots lose one of their rookies to the waiver process, but I don’t find that likely. Bottom line if Barker is playing for the Pats in 2016 something has gone horribly wrong.

If the Patriots rookie lineman don’t perform well enough to earn a spot of the practice squad Keavon Milton will end up there again. Similar to Barker, if he is seeing regular time in front of Jimmy G. or Brady there is a huge problem.

Joe Thuney is a 3rd round pick that I imagine the Patriots are dreaming of just sending to the practice squad to learn. That may not be likely and Thuney could end up on the roster taking Jackson’s spot, but I think it’s most likely he ends up as a practice squader.

Ted Karras is a 6th round rookie that could make run at the practice squad over Barker or Milton, but is more likely to end up on the street come last August.

Kyle Kerbyson is a undrafted rookie free agent who is in the same sort of situation as Karras. If they make the practice squad it is at the expense of Barker and Milton, or they end up on the street looking for work.

Left Tackle: Nate Solder
Right Tackle: Sebastian Vollmer
Center: David Andrews
Left Guard: Shaq Mason
Right Guard: Bryan Stork
Swing Tackle: Adrian Waddle
Swing Guard: Tre Jackson
Heavy Tackle/Tight End: Cameron Fleming
Practice Squad: Keavon Milton, Joe Thuney
Cut: Jonathan Cooper, Josh Kline, Marcus Cannon, Chris Barker, Ted Karras, Kyle Kerbyson

Here is the compilation of my roster guess through today:

QB 4 RB 5 WR 6
Tom Brady Legarrette Blount Julain Edelman
Jimmy Garrapolo Donald Brown Danny Amendola
Jacoby Brissett Dion Lewis Chris Hogan
Unsigned Veteran James White Nate Washington
Brandon Bolden Malcolm Mitchell
Matthew Slater
TE 4 OL 8
Rob Gronkowski Nate Solder
Martellus Bennett Sebastian Vollmer
Clay Harbor David Andrews
A.J. Derby Shaq Mason
Bryan Stork
Adrian Waddle
Tre Jackson
Cameron Fleming
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