New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Dante Scarnecchia had a frank assessment of those who wonder about Isaiah Wynn. Some have questioned the former Georgia offensive lineman’s ability to play left tackle for the Patriots, or at the NFL level at all – and it’s mainly based on his relative lack of prototypical height or arm length.

“I think that [stuff’s] way overrated,” said Scarnecchia, amid a more detailed comment by the Patriots offensive line coach that wondered why physical tools like height and arm length are considered as much as pure athleticism, intelligence, or toughness. Wynn measures at about 6-foot-3 with 33-inch arms, which is considered more typical of a guard then a left tackle. Nate Solder, by comparison, measured 6-foot-8 with 35 1/2-inch arms.

“We’d like to see them be as tall and as long as they can possibly be,” Scarnecchia said. “But does he have the skill to play it? Does he have enough length to play it? What’s long enough?”

Wynn told reporters shortly after he was drafted that he felt his best game as a senior at Georgia was his final game, the national championship against Alabama. The reasons why he felt good about his performance in that game – and why the Patriots believe he could play left tackle for them – are evident in his highlights, which you can watch above.

As the starting left tackle, which he was all season, Wynn drew a variety of assignments – mostly manning the blind side for Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. He mainly drew ‘Bama edge rusher Da’Shawn Hand – who went to the Detroit Lions 118th overall in the 2018 draft – and frequently kept Hand at bay. He held his own when he matched up against other high-upside NFL-caliber talents – like linebacker Rashaan Evans, who went one pick before Wynn to the Tennessee Titans in the first round, and pass rusher Da’Ron Payne, who went 13th overall to the Washington Redskins.

Among the top highlights from the above video:

— Stands up edge rusher to buy time for a long pass in the first quarter (0:05)
— Lowers his shoulder to help block for a Sony Michel run to convert on third down (1:22)
— Contains Evans on the edge to help spring Michel for a big gain down the sideline (2:32)
— Shifts out to the flat to block Alabama CB Anthony Averett for a big gain by D’Andre Swift (5:35)

Jan 8, 2018, Atlanta, GA, USA: Georgia Bulldogs tackle Isaiah Wynn against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the CFP National Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Jan 8, 2018, Atlanta, GA, USA: Georgia Bulldogs tackle Isaiah Wynn against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the CFP National Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

On top of these standout plays, the video shows that Alabama mostly had success when Wynn was not matched up against their top pass-rushing talents like Payne or Hand. The Crimson Tide got an interception on one of the only plays that Wynn wasn’t blocking Hand, who worked his way inside enough to get Fromm’s pass attempt to deflect off his helmet.

Keeping a close eye on Wynn in these highlights, the thing that sticks out more than anything about the rookie tackle is his deft footwork. Wynn consistently used his feet to keep opponents in front of him, whether bigger guys like Hand or smaller, speedier rushers like Evans. He rarely bit on Evans’ spin moves.

Wynn also showed in this game that he has the athleticism to kick out to the edge for a block in the open field, or work his way up to the second level when called upon. There’s no doubt that Scarnecchia and the Patriots found his versatility to play multiple positions and execute a variety of assignments attractive.

Scarnecchia cited former Patriots left tackle and team Hall of Fame candidate Matt Light, who succeeded at left tackle for a decade despite being “only” 6-foot-4 with 33-inch arms, as a reason why Wynn shouldn’t be ruled out as Tom Brady’s long-term blind side protector. The Pats are ultimately more concerned about Wynn’s athleticism, toughness, and football smarts rather than some arbitrary numbers.

“What’s the standards? I don’t know,” Scarnecchia added. “[It’s a matter of] can the guy play [left tackle] or can he not play it?

“If you’re referring to Isaiah, he’s played left tackle in the best conference in America. Played pretty good. So we’re gonna take a look at it and see how it goes.”

If all does go well, the Patriots may have found their left tackle of the future. And if not, they’ve still found themselves a smart, skilled player who can man their offensive line for a long time.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.