Phil Perry

Prototypical Patriots: Seven offensive tackles who fit Wolf's mold

What is Eliot Wolf looking for in an offensive tackle entering the NFL Draft?

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For a long time, putting together our Prototypical Patriots series was relatively self-explanatory. We had about two decades worth 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 would want 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.

All of those names ended up as general managers of their own teams, with Eliot Wolf working as assistant general manager directly under Dorsey in Cleveland.

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 tackle

At tackle, there are 16 players who were drafted by a member of the tree in the first and second rounds. We have official pre-draft measurements -- thanks to the extensive library from Kent Lee Platte's site -- for all of them except for Ross Verba, a first-round tackle taken by the Packers in 1997.

Therefore, of the 15 first and second-round Wolf-tree offensive tackles, here's what we can say.

They have an average height of 6-foot-5 and 1/2 inches and an average weight of 311 pounds. Their average arm length is 34 inches and their average hand size is 10.3 inches. The arm length and hand sizes are slightly above average relative to combine participants of the last two decades, but otherwise there's not much that's all that remarkable about the physical profile of the average highly-drafted Wolf-tree tackle.

What is above average is the athleticism of these players. Wolf-tree execs clearly wanted high-level movement skills from their edge protectors.

The average broad jump for this group of 15 first and second-rounders at tackle -- nine feet-- ranks in the 74th percentile. The average short-shuttle time for these players is 4.63 seconds, which ranks in the 73rd percentile. The average vertical of about 29.5 inches ranks in the 67th percentile. The average 10-yard split for this group is 1.76 seconds, which ranks in the 64th percentile.

Who fits the suit?

This is where Platte's metric, Relative Athletic Score, is helpful for us. It combines size and athletic test results to spit out a player's RAS. These scores rank from 0.0 to 10.0, with anything above an 8.0 being considered high-level. The average RAS for Wolf-tree first- and second-round tackles checks in at a whopping 8.38.

Some of the best athletes at this position drafted early by the Wolf tree? 

There was Eric Fisher, taken by Dorsey with the first overall pick back in 2013 (RAS: 9.82). Then there was Kolton Miller, taken by McKenzie in the first round in 2018 (RAS: 9.99).

McCloughan took a pair of next-level athletes to play tackle in the first round during his career: Joe Staley went to the 49ers at No. 28 overall in 2007 (RAS: 10.0), while Brandon Scherff went to Washington at No. 5 overall in 2015 (RAS: 9.78). (Scherff ended up playing guard, but immediately after the draft, McCloughan was open with his intentions of having Scherff play tackle to start his career.)

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When it comes to finding potential fits for Eliot Wolf at tackle in this year's class, we'll start with that average RAS figure of 8.38. It's not a perfect cutoff, but it helps us eliminate a number of players who -- for one reason or another -- may not be quite as athletic as the current Patriots regime would prefer.

After that, arm length seems to matter for people with a Packers background. Of the 15 Wolf-tree first-and-second round tackles for whom we have official pre-draft measurements, 11 had arms that measured at least 34 inches in length.

Here's where that leaves us. Great athlete? Long arms? You're a tackle who has a shot at getting drafted -- and drafted early -- by a Ron Wolf mentee.

In this year's draft class, we've identified seven players who fit that profile. 

Without further ado...

Joe Alt, Notre Dame (6-foot-9, 321 pounds)

Highlights of of Notre dame offensive tackle Joe Alt, a projected Top 10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

There might not be a better physical specimen at this position in this year's draft class. Not only does Alt have a behemoth's frame, but his arms measure 34.25 inches. His athleticism is top-flight, with a broad jump that ranked him in the 88th percentile and a lightning-quick short-shuttle time of 4.51 seconds.

Put it all together and he has the best RAS of anyone on this year's list: 9.91. The Patriots won't have an opportunity to draft him unless they decide to trade down. But there may not be a better trade-down target than him. 

Olu Fashanu, Penn State (6-foot-6, 312 pounds)

Highlights of Olu Fashanu, an offensive tackle prospect from Penn St.

Fashanu is another clear-cut left-tackle-caliber athlete who will go off the board in the first round this year.

His arms check a box for this exercise at 34 inches, and his athleticism is without a doubt what you'd expect from a blindside protector. His vertical (32 inches) put him in the 88th percentile, and his 1.76-second 10-yard split is just another indication of how quickly he can move his prototypical frame.

The one possible concern here? His hands are among the smallest ever measured for a player at his position at the NFL Scouting Combine. At 8.5 inches, they didn't even crack the 1st percentile. Would that prevent Wolf from pulling the trigger on Fashanu as a trade-down target? There are plenty of other tools here to like.

Troy Fautanu, Washington (6-foot-4, 317 pounds)

Fautanu is shorter than most at this position, but that doesn't disqualify him from being included here. His arms are more than long enough at 34.5 inches, and he's a special athlete. His RAS of 9.45 easily exceeds the mark we're looking for -- he showed off his eye-opening explosiveness with broad and vertical jumps at the combine that ranked in the 91st and 90th percentiles, respectively.

There's plenty of evidence of Wolf-tree execs taking shorter prospects who have the necessary movement skills to play on an island against edge rushers. Scherff, Charles Cross, James Carpenter and Daryn Colledge all went off the board in the first two rounds and didn't crack the 6-foot-5 barrier.

Fautanu has a tough-as-nails demeanor, and he looks like a smooth mover. He could be gone by the middle of the first round, so if the Patriots want him, they may have to trade back from No. 3 to get the No. 11 overall selection from the Vikings.

Amarius Mims, Georgia (6-foot-8, 340 pounds)

Even if the new Patriots regime may not get stuck on a player's height... it certainly doesn't hurt if a player can move and block out the sun.

That's Mims, whose broad jump (9-foot-3) ranked in the 85th percentile, whose 10-yard split was a solid 1.77 seconds, and whose RAS checks in at a wildly-impressive 9.56. His arms are, no surprise, outrageously long (36.1 inches).

Are there questions about how he'll translate to the next level? Certainly. He made just eight starts as a collegian. But players with his traits don't last long in the draft. 

Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma (6-foot-8, 322 pounds)

Highlights of offensive tackle Tyler Guyton from the University of Oklahoma

Arm length? Over 34 inches. Check. Athlete? Guyton jumped 34.5 inches in the vertical and clocked a 1.76-second 10-yard split, helping him to earn an RAS of 9.70. Check.

Guyton might, on paper, be the best fit for the new Patriots regime because of the number of boxes he satisfies when compared to other first- and second-rounders taken by Ron Wolf-tree front-office chiefs. His hands measure 10.3 inches, and he posted an eye-opening 7.5-second three-cone drill.

The vast majority of Guyton's experience is at right tackle, but he looks like he could play tight end given how he moves, never mind left tackle.

With a little more polish from a technique-savvy offensive line coach -- that's the rep of New England's new o-line boss Scott Peters -- Guyton could be the foundational cornerstone piece the Patriots line needs.

Kingsley Suamataia, BYU (6-foot-5, 326 pounds)

Highlights of offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia from BYU

Another on-the-shorter-end tackle. Another Patriots option. He has the length (34.25-inch arms) and athleticism (9.38 RAS) to qualify for this exercise. His 10-yard split (1.73 seconds) and broad jump (9-foot-2) are signs that he's a particularly coordinated and explosive mover, which you can see in this clip where he's working as the left tackle against Texas.

For a Patriots team that could be emphasizing zone running, getting a player like Suamataia with those kinds of in-space movement skills, he could be a tremendous fit. He also might be available to the Patriots at No. 34 overall.

Even if they wanted to trade up into the bottom of the first round to nab him, it might not be a bad idea since he seems to provide that which Ron Wolf types have favored in the past. 

Patrick Paul, Houston (6-foot-8, 331 pounds)

Highlights of University of Houston offensive lineman Patrick Paul

Paul has all the size you could want (36.3-inch arms) and one of the best Relative Athletic Scores in the class (9.75).  A three-year starter in college, beginning as a red-shirt freshman in 2021, and a two-time captain, Paul didn't allow a sack last season and gave up just one quarterback hit in 469 pass-block opportunities.

He'd be a bit of a project, potentially, but if he's available at No. 34 overall? It's rare to find tools like his -- and a demeanor like his -- outside the first round.

The Patriots had success with a Houston tackle who was a bit raw taken in the second round back in 2009. Could Paul be their next Sebastian Vollmer? That'd be a home run on Day 2.

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