The 2018 New England Patriots had one of the best offensive lines in the league, but the unit isn’t solidified heading into 2019. For the second straight season, New England’s left tackle earned a record-breaking deal in free agency. This time, Trent Brown joined the Oakland Raiders on a massive contract. Isaiah Wynn has yet to play an NFL snap but is currently penciled in to protect Tom Brady’s blindside. Is 2018’s first-round pick up for the challenge?
New England Patriots X-Factors: Isaiah Wynn
The Patriots selected Wynn with their first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Expected to immediately contribute, the Georgia product suffered an Achilles injury in the preseason and missed the entirety of his rookie season.
Based on his college tape, there’s no denying that Wynn has the fundamentals and quickness necessary to survive in the NFL. Wynn spent the 2017 season as Georgia’s left tackle and was one of the best in all of college football. Going up against a tough schedule, Wynn surrendered just five pressures all season long. Additionally, he showed the ability to move defenders as a run blocker and open up holes for collegiate teammate Sony Michel.
As of this posting, the only offensive tackles of note on the roster are Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, and Yodny Cajuste. Cannon’s penciled in on the right side, but the depth behind him could certainly be improved. Cole Croston has played sparingly over the past two seasons while third-round rookie Yodny Cajuste would be best served with a year on the bench. Wynn should be the odds-on favorite to win the left tackle job, but can he adequately protect a 42-year old Tom Brady?
As previously mentioned, Wynn suffered an Achilles injury early in the 2018 preseason. While he should be ready for the start of the season, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll truly be 100% for the start of the season. Achilles injuries sap agility and can take years for a full recovery. As a left tackle, Wynn needs to have quick feet to fend off speedier edge rushers. Entering the season as a first-year starter is hard enough, but doing it while rehabbing from a serious injury only compounds the challenge.
On top of that, some believe that Wynn is too small to play left tackle at the NFL level. At 6’3”, Wynn is undersized relative to the typical left tackle. This size comparison is magnified by the size of his predecessors. Former left tackles Nate Solder and Trent Brown both stood at a massive 6’8”, so that six-inch drop off is notable.
That said, there are plenty of reasons to believe in Wynn at left tackle. While his height is below-average, all of his other measurables meet NFL standards. His 33 3/8” arm length compares favorably to other top tackles in his draft class. By comparison, 2018’s ninth overall pick Mike McGlinchey has a 34” arm length.
While Wynn is notably shorter than Solder and Brown, he’s actually similar to former franchise left tackle Matt Light. Light, a former All-Pro, stood at just 6’4”, only one inch taller than Wynn. Despite his limited frame, he managed to have a fantastic 11-year career as one of the better offensive tackles of his time.
Last Word on Isaiah Wynn
Isaiah Wynn could be one of the most important players on the 2019 New England Patriots. With Tom Brady entering his age-42 season, it’s never been more important to keep the franchise quarterback upright and clean. With Trent Brown gone, Isaiah Wynn will be asked to fill the vacated void at left tackle.
Based on his college film, Wynn has the ability to seamlessly transition to the NFL. He allowed just five pressures as a Senior and possessed the strength needed to push guys around in the run game. With Dante Scarneccia as his line coach, Wynn has the opportunity to be the franchise left tackle of the future.
However, Wynn will need to prove he’s worthy of that title. The Georgia product is coming off of an Achilles injury and needs to prove he’s fully recovered. Additionally, Wynn will need to overcome his undersized build to stick at left tackle for the foreseeable future. If he doesn’t have the speed or height to make it as a tackle, he’ll have to move over to guard. If that happens, New England will either rely on a career backup or a third-round rookie to protect the greatest quarterback of all time.
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