There are many new faces on this Patriots team this summer. The Pats acquired four guys from trade, fifteen from free agency, and nine from the NFL Draft. They also lost nine players through trade and free agency and had three players retire. Plenty of questions remain on the offensive line, wide receiver corps, and defensive backs.
In this new series, I will be looking at every player from each position leading up to training camp. For this part of the series, I will take a look at the interior offensive linemen. The Patriots have added two new interior linemen while keeping their main core intact.
Shaq Mason #69 (2015-Present):
Shaq Mason is entering his fourth season in the NFL with the Pats. Mason was drafted out of Georgia Tech in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. His college career consisted of being first-team All-ACC and Second-team All-ACC. He started 39 out of the total 41 games in his career, including every game in his junior and senior seasons. As a rookie, Mason appeared in 14 games and started 10 of them. The 2016 season saw Mason play in all 16 games while starting 15 of them. He also started in the Super Bowl 51 victory over Atlanta. The next season was the first year that Mason started every single game. This was his best season yet, as he was ranked the #9 guard according to Pro Football Focus.
This is an outstanding play by RG Shaq Mason. NE is running what they refer to as "Slant 34 Ace"… A lead play w/ the FB leading up on the Mike LB. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/zElgv7XpD9
— Zach Dunn (@ZachSDunn) May 20, 2018
Mason has shown his ability through his first three years in the NFL as an elite blocker. Thus, it makes no sense to let him go.
Joe Thuney #62 (2016-Present):
Joe Thuney is entering his third season in the NFL, all of which with New England. He was drafted in the third-round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of NC State. Thuney has started every single game for New England since he got drafted. These games also include the six playoff games and the Super Bowl win in 2016. In his rookie season, Thuney got the honors of being voted to the PFWA all-rookie team. In 2017, after starting all 16 games, he was ranked the #14 guard according to Pro Football Focus.
Joe Thuney fan account here. An OG you can win with who won't wow you anywhere but plays with excellent leverage and base. Smart & tough. pic.twitter.com/bWRmMqVufn
— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) September 22, 2017
Thuney has had a successful career for New England thus far. He does need to work on his strength though, as he did get pushed around on occasion by bigger, stronger d-linemen. Overall, with Thuney starting every game for the Pats the past two years, they will likely not get rid of him.
David Andrews #60 (2015-Present):
David Andrews is the leader of the Patriots offensive-line. He is entering his fourth year in the NFL, all for the Patriots. Andrews was picked up by New England after the 2015 draft. After injuries to Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell, Andrews was pushed into the starting center role in his first game. He started 11 games in his rookie season while appearing in 14. His 2016 season was his best season to date, starting every single game including the Super Bowl win over Atlanta. Andrews’ great season pushed him to second in fan-voting for the 2016 Pro Bowl.
Thought David Andrews had his best game of the year. Nice work with himand Joe Thuney to spring Lewis for 25 pic.twitter.com/3P0RDe1PYM
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) October 25, 2017
Before the 2017 season, Andrews signed a three-year contract extension with the Pats. He was named captain for the first time in his career. Andrews then started 17 of the 19 total games for New England that year. He was ranked the #5 center by Pro Football Focus.
Overall, Andrews is one of the best centers in the NFL. Being a captain, don’t look for the Patriots to cut him this summer.
James Ferentz #66 (2017-Present):
James Ferentz is entering his fifth season in the NFL and second for New England. Ferentz started his career in Houston as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa. He did not play a snap for the Texans in his one year with the team and was promptly cut. The Denver Broncos picked up Ferentz for their 2016 season. He appeared in 13 total games, including the 2015 AFC Championship against New England. After getting a ring with Denver, he was released in May. Ferentz was picked up off waivers a week later by New England. He was on the practice squad for the entire 2017 season.
Ferentz has been in the league for a few seasons now, but has still not started in one game. He will have a lot of work to do if he wants to make the team, but competition is not scarce. He is certainly a long-shot to make this 53-man roster.
Ted Karras #75 (2016-Present):
Ted Karras is entering his third year in the NFL, all for the Patriots. Karras was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Illinois University. He started his first game in the NFL after injuries sustained by Shaq Mason. That would be Karras’ only start in his rookie season. Before the 2017 season, Karras was cut by the Patriots. He was then added to the practice squad and later activated by the team. He played in all 16 games that year, and started two due to an illness to David Andrews.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) November 22, 2017
Karras was very solid in his three games started. His versatility as both a guard and center may make him a more valuable piece and likely earn him a spot on this roster.
Matt Tobin #64 (2018-Present):
Matt Tobin is entering his first year in New England and his sixth year in the NFL. Tobin was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He played four seasons with them and started twenty-one games. His best season was in 2015, in which he started 13 games and appeared in 16. Tobin was traded to Seattle before the 2017 season. He played in 15 games that year, but did not earn a start. Tobin was acquired by New England via free agency in the 2018 offseason.
Sweet set by Matt Tobin filling in for Peters at LT. Excellent display of balance on the inside out move. Iowa OL 💪 pic.twitter.com/Txtx3QngM0
— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) May 7, 2016
Tobin has shown throughout his career that he can play every position on the offensive line. At 6’6″, he fits best as a tackle, but if he makes the roster I believe he earns some work in the interior. Overall, it is going to be very tough for Tobin to make the team, and I do not believe he will.
Luke Bowanko #72 (2018-Present):
Luke Bowanko is entering his fifth NFL season and first for the Patriots. He was the 205th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft for the Jacksonville Jagurs. Bowanko started 14 games his rookie season and played in 16. Over the next two seasons, he played in 7 games while not starting in any. He was then traded to Baltimore before the 2017 season. He started one game while appearing in all 16. Bowanko was acquired by New England via free agency in the 2018 offseason.
Bowanko is known primarily as a center/guard. He has a lot of experience in the interior, but I don’t believe he will make the cut for New England due to the crowded field.
Jason King #65 (2017-Present):
Jason King has had a rollercoaster of a career so far. He is entering his 2nd year in the NFL and for the Pats. King was signed by New England as an undrafted free agent in May of 2017. He was then cut in September before being added to the practice squad two weeks later. King was cut from the team in October, and got picked up to Baltimore’s practice squad. He was then removed from the Ravens practice squad two weeks later. Two weeks after getting cut by Baltimore, he signed with New England and got cut two times that December. He was signed to a future/reserves contract in February, but was then waived again in May. King was then signed back to New England a week later.
Did you follow all of that?
King’s best chance of staying with New England is by making the practice squad, but I believe he will be cut and finally cap his career with the Patriots.
The Patriots have one of the best interior offensive lines in all of football. Guys like Shaq Mason and David Andrews open up holes for running backs while also protecting Tom Brady. The interior offensive line is going to have to play a big part in another Patriots Super Bowl run.