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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Patriots just doing their due diligence, or are they planning on using their first-round pick on the offensive line? That’s a question worth asked after Jim Nagy reported the team has offensive line coaches in attendance at Rashawn Slater’s Northwestern Pro Day.

Slater is consistently ranked the second or third best tackle in this year’s draft class, behind Oregon’s Penei Sewell and on par with Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw. Most mock drafts have him going either 12th (SF) or 13th (LAC), meaning the Patriots would have to trade up – albeit slightly – to land him.

While the thought of moving up in the first round to get an offensive lineman may leave some fans’ heads spinning, the Patriots would end up with a tremendous player with plenty of upside. A three-year starter before opting out of the 2020 season, Slater was a dominant left tackle for the Wildcats. He drew national attention in 2019, when he neutralized eventual second-overall pick Chase Young.

On top of being technically sound Slater also offers positional versatility, with some scouts suggesting he could play all five spots along the line as a rookie. If the Patriots agree with that assessment, it’s not hard to see them giving Slater a significantly high grade.

Of the Patriots three top tackles, Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn are both in the last guaranteed year of their contracts. Marcus Cannon has two years remaining, but at 32-years-old and coming off an opt out season, can be viewed as a year-to-year player. In a season with so many needs, will they use their first round pick to inject some stability back into the position? Or will they take advantage of a very deep tackle draft and wait on that pick until a later round?

MORE: Barth’s Patriots Mock Draft 1.0

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Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.