New England Patriots: Top 5 concerns heading into 2022 NFL season

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots offensive line. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots offensive line must find its footing

Last year, the Patriots o-line did a solid job protecting Mac Jones and was even ranked the ninth best front-five in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

So far, it appears that a drastic drop on that list is imminent for New England. They lost a key piece to that core this offseason with guard Shaq Mason being traded to Tampa Bay. His presumed replacement is rookie Cole Strange out of Chattanooga who was a shocking first-round choice to the NFL world.

While Strange has showed promise with a solid preseason, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. was not very high on him upon draft night.

"“This was a huge reach on my board. I thought Strange might sneak into Round 2, but he’s not a first-round talent. I know New England has a hole at guard, but will Strange even start immediately? Strange made 44 starts in college and plays with good technique, but this is high for a prospect who is No. 69 on my Big Board.”"

With Strange having ‘boom or bust’ potential, and the Patriots returning three to four starters from last year’s adequate front, why the concern?

In Friday’s exhibition bout with the Raiders, the starting group looked helpless; allowing free releases, QB pressures, and two sacks on Mac Jones in not a lot of playing time.

Beyond that, there is even more uncertainty regarding this group with rumors swirling around a possible Isaiah Wynn trade. Wynn, a first-round pick in 2018, has been an above-average tackle over the past couple seasons, and there is no sure replacement for him if he is traded.

The front five has not looked great early on, and they are definitely a group Patriots fans should keep a close eye on this year.