INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday, the offensive lineman coming out in April’s draft met with the assembled media at the NFL combine.
From a Patriots perspective, it certainly isn’t one of their top needs, but they do have 12 picks so almost no position can be ruled out. After selecting Isaiah Wynn in the first round last year, it’s almost certain a top pick won’t be used on a lineman again this year, so any selections would likely come in the later rounds and may be more of the developmental types.
With that in mind, after listening to the players speak, here’s five names to keep an eye on.
OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State — The 6-foot-5 tackle confirmed he has a formal interview with the Patriots this week. While it certainly doesn’t mean much, it cannot be totally dismissed following Sony Michel and Wynn being selected last year when they made it known they met with the Patriots in Indy.
Howard certainly fits the developmental tackle type as he was actually a high school quarterback and played tight end at Alabama State before switching to tackle the last few seasons. Being so new at the position he’d need some work, but the Patriots have the roster flexibility to stash him if they do like what they see.
C Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama — There’s no real rhyme or reason for this one other than the Patriots haven’t had a true backup center for multiple years now and have gotten lucky nothing serious has happened to David Andrews.
Pierschbacher obviously has the Nick Saban connection, and he’s expected to go in the middle rounds where the Patriots have a ton of picks. It’s also worth noting he has versatility, as he played left guard up until this past season.
OG Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas — The Patriots are set on the interior for now, but who knows what will happen with Joe Thuney in a few years, or even backup Ted Karras. Froholdt was a solid left guard for Arkansas as he didn’t allow a sack all year and was penalized just twice. It’s also worth noting the Bret Bielema connection. He’s a mid-to-late round player, so could be a potential option.
OG Tyler Jones, NC State — If the Patriots do select an interior linemen in the middle or late rounds, Jones likely has to be considered since he went to NC State and the team found success with Thuney a few years ago. Jones is a very durable player, just like Thuney.
OT Greg Little, Mississippi — According to Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald, Little met with the Patriots this week. “Good meeting, very positive vibes,” he said. Little is one of the best tackles in the draft and is expected to go high, so maybe this is a case of the Patriots just doing their due diligence and who knows, maybe one day he becomes available and the team can remember what it gathered from this meeting.