Isaiah Wynn's precipitous fall-off will cost him his starting job with Patriots sooner or later

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The Patriots haven’t had a first-round pick sign a second deal with the team since they extended Dont’a Hightower (2012), and it doesn’t look like Isaiah Wynn is about to break that ignominious streak.

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After four years and four weeks into the 2022 season, the former No. 23 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft looks like he’s run his course with the team that drafted him. After making Wynn switch to right tackle to his customary left side, New England benched Wynn for Marcus Cannon, who was just elevated from the practice squad before this Sunday’s game, after an ugly performance against Green Bay.

In particular, Wynn’s two sacks allowed to the Packers’ Rashan Gary resulted in two disastrous outcomes for the Patriots: a hard hit that knocked start quarterback Brian Hoyer from the game and a strip-sack on Bailey Zappe that Green Bay recovered. He also committed a false start and a holding penalty to set drives back.

Pro Football Focus even graded him out at an abysmal 21.2 as a pass-blocker on Sunday, which was infinitely worse than Cannon (78.3). In fact, every other Patriots offense lineman besides Wynn and Cannon that played against Green Bay graded out better than 80 in pass protection. Wynn was the weak link, and it wasn’t close.

Unfortunately, this isn't just a poor one-game sample, either. It's been this way.

Wynn currently leads the Patriots in pressures allowed (9) in 2022 (per PFF) and surrendered a team-leading 28 pressures and six sacks last season. You could argue that those poor numbers are because he was left on an island more often without help, but David Andrews and Shaq Mason had even more "true pass sets" (one-on-one blocking assignments) than Wynn did and gave up far fewer pressures and only one sack apiece.

When the Patriots toyed around with Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste at right tackle with Wynn out instead of moving Trent Brown back to the right side this spring, it suggested immediately the Patriots might be trying to see what life was like without Wynn permanently. If Cannon can play at his current level consistently, New England might roll those dice.

Trading Wynn remains a difficult proposition with his $10.4 million fifth-year option on the books, and the Patriots would almost definitely have to eat some money to make it happen. Also, cutting Wynn wouldn’t do any good because his money’s fully guaranteed.

Therein lies the problem: the Patriots gambled on a tweener whom some scouts thought would need to move inside to guard at some point, even giving him an extra year he arguably didn’t deserve to figure things out, and it failed.

Now, it seems only a matter of when New England replaces Wynn in the starting lineup, and that "when" could be sooner rather than later.

Just like that, he'll join fellow 2018 first-rounder Sony Michel and 2019 pick N'Keal Harry as recent Patriots first-round picks to flame out in Foxborough.