Need an offensive or defensive lineman? Here are some “clean” prospects for the New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Safe is one way to describe it.

The phrase former New England Patriots executive Scott Pioli used was “clean.” Think unblemished on and off the field.

Pioli talked about the types of offensive and defensive linemen the team considered drafting during his tenure in a recent interview on the NFL Network. From Pioli, via SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit: “Generally speaking, when the Patriots go with a big guy one of the things we did when I was out there was we made sure they were not only big and talented, but they had to be clean.”

The Patriots are in need of several “clean” prospects along both sides of the line.

Starting guards Shaq Mason was traded to Tampa Bay and Ted Karras signed with Cincinnati. The defensive line, meanwhile, is hoping to improve upon last season’s No. 22 ranking against the run.

New England has eight picks in the upcoming draft, including three of the top 85 picks. If the Patriots are going to add potential starters to either side of the line, those are the rounds to do it.

Here’s a look at “clean” offensive and defensive line prospects in the first three rounds:

Round 1, Pick No. 21

Clean prospect(s)

Connecticut defensive lineman Travis Jones doesn’t come with the same hype as the Georgia linemen, but that has nothing to do with his play on the field. The 6-foot-5, 333-pound senior has steadily climbed up draft boards and can be found near the bottom of the first round in many mock drafts.

On offense, center Tyler Linderbaum or guards Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green all fit the bill. Center isn’t a need for New England, as former Georgia undrafted rookie David Andrews had a 77.6 PFF grade last season. And you can probably pencil in Michael Onwenu as one of the starting guards. As for the other starting guard, James Ferentz, Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste are all in the mix.

In other words, Johnson and/or Green would be an immediate upgrade.

Both come with position versatility. Johnson played left guard in 2019, left tackle in 2020, then rotated between the positions last season. Not to be outdone, Green played every position along the line but center in 2021.

Prospect(s) to avoid

If you’re looking for “clean” prospects, then you can probably cross off the talented Georgia duo of Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt.

There are no questions about the 6-foot-6, 360-pound Davis’ talent, but analysts wonder if he can play more than 400 snaps in a season. Former Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore, for example, played in 598 snaps on defense last season. Barmore was a second-round pick.

As for Wyatt, some teams have allegedly taken him off their draft boards due to off-field concerns. You can read about it here. Wyatt is also one of the older prospects in the draft at 24.

The pick

Johnson seems just seems like a Bill Belichick-type of player. A no-star recruit with only one season as a full-time starter in high school, Johnson signed with Davidson at 240 pounds and eventually wound up starting his freshman season. He eventually transferred to Boston College, where he was a three-year starter after taking advantage of the extra year.

Johnson graduated last May with a degree in computer science and is currently working toward his master’s degree in cybersecurity policy and governance.

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