A journeyman across the offensive line, Thuney is the logical replacement for Trent Brown as New England’s next left tackle.
In football, every play is won or lost in the trenches. A combination of an All-Pro quarterback and All-Pro receiver is useless without a strong line giving the quarterback the necessary time and protection to make an accurate throw. That belief has been firmly adopted by Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Over the last few years, the Patriots have worked through the draft, and other teams, to assemble one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
The Patriots’ talented offensive line contains arguably the best pair of guards in the entire league, left guard Joe Thuney and right guard Shaq Mason. Both still young players, they should be stalwarts on the line for the foreseeable future. However, a switch to the interior could be happening soon if Thuney is moved over to left tackle.
Originally, Isaiah Wynn was drafted last year to replace Nate Solder, who departed via free agency. However, Wynn tore his Achilles in the preseason, prompting the Patriots to trade for Trent Brown. After anchoring the line at left tackle, Brown left for the Raiders on a historic offensive lineman deal. Now, the Pats are once again slated to fix the left tackle position.
Thuney played his college ball at North Carolina State, where he lined up at tackle, guard, and center through his career. Not does Thuney has the versatility to play anywhere along the line, but he also has durability. He has started every game in his career since being drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft. There has been talk about moving Thuney to bookend the line in case Wynn was not fully recovered from his Achilles injury.
Even if Wynn is healthy, it might be best to move him to the interior. He also has experience playing as a guard, and unfortunately might have lost some of the spring in his step after tearing his Achilles. A big mauler on the interior, Wynn could be the perfect left guard to replace Thuney and more-so move the Patriots offense to a power-run team. Of course, protecting Brady will be the ultimate goal of this line, but as the clock ticks on his career, it’s best for the Pats to prepare for the future before it’s too late.
With Thuney entering a contract year, he could be excited about the prospect of playing out wide. The last two left tackles who worked with Scarnecchia earned the highest ever deal for a left tackle the following season, and Thuney seems like a player committed to winning and would be on board to taking less money to play in Foxboro. Other than right tackle Marcus Cannon, the rest of the offensive line is made up of excellent, young athletes (Mason, Thuney, Wynn, and center David Andrews). Even if Wynn is healthy, perhaps it would be best to give Thuney a chance as Brady’s blindside blocker.