Phil Perry

Prototypical Patriots: Quickness, versatility available at guard

A handful of dynamic offensive linemen could make sense for the Patriots on Day 2 or 3.

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For a long time, putting together our Prototypical Patriots series was relatively self-explanatory. We had about two decades of drafts run by Bill Belichick to analyze what he preferred at certain positions.

What were the physical or production-related thresholds he seemed to value at quarterback? Receiver? Tackle? Pass-rusher? Corner?

The more picks Belichick made, the more information we had, and -- theoretically -- the more we could zero-in on the players Belichick coveted on draft weekend.

Now? The entire process is a little tougher.

Branches of the Wolf tree

De facto Patriots general manager and director of scouting Eliot Wolf has no track record as a franchise's primary front-office decision-maker. It's not entirely clear what he'll prefer on a position-by-position basis.

All we can do, then, is work off clues from personnel chiefs alongside whom Wolf has studied in the past. That includes his father, Ron Wolf, who built the Packers in the early 1990s and beyond.

The elder Wolf tutored the likes of Ted Thompson, John Dorsey, John Schneider, Reggie McKenzie, Scot McCloughan and Brian Gutekunst. Aside from McCloughan, who left the Packers in 1999, the younger Wolf worked with all of those future general managers in Green Bay. He worked directly under Dorsey in Cleveland as assistant GM.

As we go through this year's Prototypical Patriots series, we'll use evidence from all the branches of the Ron Wolf executive tree, pointing out what they valued in their early-round selections.

The prototypical Wolf tree guard

On the interior of the offensive line, there are 11 players who were drafted by a member of the Wolf tree in the first, second or third rounds in the last 15 years: Josh Myers, Elgton Jenkins, Mitch Morse, Austin Corbett, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Damian Lewis, John Moffitt, Chilo Rachal, David Baas and Gabe Jackson.

They have an average height of 6-foot-4 and an average weight of 316 pounds. And many of them possess above-average quickness.

Myers, drafted in the second round by the Packers in 2021, did not record a short-shuttle time before the draft. The other 10 interior linemen we identified all did, though, and half recorded short-shuttle times of 4.62 seconds or better. The ones who didn't showed good lower-body explosiveness with broad jumps of at least 8-foot-11.

Almost all 11 linemen we looked at were products of big-time college conferences, seemingly indicating that the Wolf tree valued seeing these linemen take on high-end competition in game situations. Six went to SEC schools, three attended Big 10 schools, one (Rachal) went to USC, and one (Corbett) played at Nevada.

It's worth highlighting Corbett because Eliot Wolf was the No. 2 personnel person in Cleveland when Corbett was drafted at the top of the second round at pick No. 33 overall. At the time the pick was made, Wolf hoped Corbett would be able to play tackle since it's the more valuable position. But Corbett has settled in at guard and started 62 games over the last six years.

Versatility also seems to be critical for Wolf-tree types. The Packers have long been known for being interested in players along the line who can provide competent play at multiple positions, and all 11 listed above came into the league with some level of versatility. Morse was a college tackle who ended up playing center. Jenkins has reps under his belt at guard, center and tackle. Pocic can play every spot along the interior. Lewis has done the same. 

Who fits the suit?

What's interesting about looking at this group of 11 players is that only one was taken in the first round: Ifedi, who was selected by Schneider with the 31st overall pick in 2016.

Given that track record combined with New England's needs elsewhere, some of the top interior linemen in this year's draft class -- Duke's Graham Barton, Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson and maybe even UConn's Christian Haynes, for example -- will likely be gone before Eliot Wolf would really consider investing at that spot.

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But there will be plenty of Day 2 and Day 3 options here who seem to have what Wolf, and those Wolf has worked alongside in the past, is looking for. 

Without further ado...

Highlights of Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton

Graham Barton, Duke (6-foot-5, 311 pounds)

Barton played tackle for the Dukies, but his best spot as a pro is likely going to be somewhere on the interior. He has plenty of quickness for this list, after running in the 4.5-second in the short-shuttle at his pro day this week.

He's not coming from a traditional Power Five powerhouse, but he's considered smart and relentless. Pair that with the movement skills that Eliot Wolf is probably looking for, and you have a fit for this list.

Highlights of Kansas State offensive guard Cooper Beebe

Cooper Beebe, Kansas State (6-foot-3, 322 pounds)

Want a big-bodied interior mauler? Beebe is one of the best in this year's class. But his 4.61-second short-shuttle time and 9-foot-1 broad jump seems to indicate he has enough in the way of athleticism to be deployed in a variety of schemes.

Want him to plow ahead on a double team? He can do that. Need him to get out on the move in a wide-zone heavy attack? He has some explosiveness to him to suggest he can do that as well.

Christian Mahogany, Boston College (6-foot-3, 314 pounds)

Don't be stunned if Mahogany ends up making the 25-mile trek from The Heights to Gillette Stadium. Good enough athlete (4.53-second short-shuttle, 9-foot-1 broad). Good tape (especially prior to a season-ending injury that robbed him of his 2022). Good size.

He might've been the next Boston College lineman to go in the first round had he not been injured. Instead, he could be a steal as a Day 2 choice. 

Highlights of Kansas offensive lineman Dominick Puni

Dominick Puni, Kansas (6-foot-5, 313 pounds)

A guard and tackle for the Jayhawks after transferring from Central Missouri, Puni posted a wildly impressive 4.40-second short-shuttle time. That is lightning quick -- particularly someone with his frame.

He's not from one of those high-end programs the Wolf tree has typically invested highly in along the interior, but he could be in the Corbett mold of a projectable athlete with versatility to play a few different spots at the next level.

Trevor Keegan, Michigan (6-foot-5, 310 pounds)

Keegan knows what it takes to chip in along a successful protection unit. A three-year starter for last season's National Championship club, he helped the Wolverines line earn back-to-back Joe Moore Awards as the best o-line unit in college football.

He didn't participate in the short-shuttle at the combine, but Keegan is one of the high-end-program types with good lower-body explosiveness (8-foot-11 broad) to qualify here.

Michigan offensive linemen Karsen Barnhart and Trevor Keegan
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan's Karsen Barnhart (52) and Trevor Keegan (77) were anchors on one of the best offensive lines in the country.

Karsen Barnhart, Michigan (6-foot-5, 306 pounds)

A late add to the list! This Wolverine's shuttle time wasn't up to snuff at the combine, but it improved at his pro day to make the cut here. He also had a strong broad jump (9-foot-3), and he's coming from a program where the Patriots know he was getting good coaching.

He played both tackle and guard in college, but is probably going to be an interior-first guy at the next level.

Roger Rosengarten, Washington (6-foot-5, 308 pounds)

A tackle at Washington, Rosengarten might not have the quickness to play out on the edge, necessarily. But he timed out well enough at the combine to be included here. He had a 4.60-second shuttle and he jumped 9-foot-5 in the broad. His Relative Athletic Score, when listed as a guard, is a very impressive 9.97. 

Brandon Coleman, TCU (6-foot-5, 313 pounds)

Talk about an impressive athlete. And he doesn't even have that quickness measurement we're looking for here. But with a 34-inch vertical (96th percentile for linemen), a 9-foot-6 broad jump (95th) and a 4.99-second (92nd percentile) 40 time? At his size? This Horned Frogs captain feels like the kind of guard-tackle prospect Eliot Wolf might like. 

Tanor Bortolini, Wisconsin (6-foot-4, 302 pounds)

Bortolini might be the best fit for the Patriots on this list. When talking about the importance of quickness and change of direction? Nobody better in this group. He posted a remarkable short-shuttle time of 4.28 seconds, which led all linemen at this year's combine. He also had an impressive broad jump of 9-foot-4.

Play him at guard. Play him at center. Either one. He has the physical traits and well-polished trench-warfare skills to be a regular in the not-too-distant-future.

Beaux Limmer, Arkansas (6-foot-5, 302 pounds)

Limmer might be a tad light. Sure. But he hails from the SEC. He ran a 4.57-second short-shuttle time. He jumped 9-foot-2 in the broad and 36.5 inches in the vertical. And he's country strong, with a whopping 39 reps of 225 pounds on the bench.

As a later-round option, someone with the potential to play both guard and center, he checks a lot of Wolf-tree executive boxes.

Brady Latham, Arkansas (6-foot-5, 304 pounds)

Two! Count 'em! Two! Razorbacks dominate this portion of the list. Latham started 47 games and served as a captain at Arkansas.

Latham, like Limmer, tested like a high-end athlete. His shuttle time was clocked at 4.47 seconds, and his broad jump was 9-foot-2. With enough athleticism and a load of experience in the SEC, he'd be an intriguing Day 3 addition.

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