The New England Patriots have major questions on the most important unit on the team after the quarterback, the offensive line. One position, however, that is in reasonably good shape is at the center.
The key to any team’s performance is their offensive line. After the aforementioned quarterback, there is no more important aspect of team-building than the O-line. A poor O-line cost the team in 2022.
Over the years the New England Patriots have expended significant draft capital on offensive linemen, often with poor results.
From the very good, like sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu to the poor, offensive tackles Isaiah Wynn, a first-round pick, and the recently released Yodny Cajuste, a third-rounder, the results have been mixed.
This year the team used a fairly high fourth-round pick on a center/guard. Let’s explore this position and give it a grade.
New England Patriots have a top starting center
The New England Patriots starting center is perhaps their best offensive lineman or at least one of their top two. It’s David Andrews.
Andrews’ signed as an undrafted free agent (UDFA) from Georgia in 2015. He has been a fixture at center ever since except in 2019 when he was out all season.
He’s been a vital cog in any success the team has had since. Can’t say anything but that was a very astute move in UDFA by a team that has a knack for doing well in that aspect of team-building.
Now 30 years old, Andrews remains a solid presence on the interior and solidifies any grade for the New England Patriots at the position. He’s one the all-time best at the position in New England Patriots’ history and will be a candidate for the team’s Hall of Fame after his career ends.
New England Patriots drafted a depth piece in 2023
Behind David Andrews on the New England Patriots depth chart at the center will likely be a rookie, coincidentally also named Andrews. That would be Jake Andrews from Troy.
Andrews, a center/guard was selected in the fourth round this year by New England. Nfl.com.prospects had this to say about Andrews in their scouting Review:
"Andrews might lack length and be viewed as only a center at the next level, but he plays with strong hands, a wide frame and exceptional strength at the point of attack. His inability to trigger his feet quickly and make fluid redirections in space show up in run blocking and pass protection, but his ability to square up and hold his own against a true nose tackle over the top of him is a valuable talent. Players with Andrews’ thickness and drive-blocking talent tend to find their way onto rosters and often end up sticking around."
A fourth-round pick, Andrews was projected later by some and could be classified as a bit of a draft reach. Nevertheless, expect Andrews to stick on the 53-man roster. In addition, the team has always-reliable now 34-year-old James Ferentz available.
Ferentz has been a backup for New England off-and-on for years and fills in at both center and guard similar to free-agent departee, Ted Karras.
Karras is a better player, but in a pinch, Ferentz has stepped in and done a reasonably solid job. He’ll likely be a practice squad candidate if Jake Andrews as anticipated is on the final 53-man roster.
With this in mind, the team is reasonably well-set at the offensive center. The grade, therefore, is B+/B. This high grade is predicted predominantly by David Andrews’ presence and the team’s investment in a fourth-round pick in his namesake Jake.
How do you think the New England Patriots are situated at the center?