New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Eastern Michigan OG Sidy Sow lines up for a play. (Eastern Michigan Athletics)

One of the biggest surprises of the Patriots’ 2023 draft was that, despite making 12 picks, the team didn’t select a tackle. The position was viewed as one of if not the biggest team need heading into the draft and both projected starters for 2023 – Trent Brown and Riley Reiff – are on expiring contracts.

That left many scratching their heads as to why the Patriots didn’t address the position at all. Even though it was a slightly weaker tackle class than average they certainly had their chances, including trading out of the 14th pick with Georgia’s Broderick Jones still on the board. Jones was viewed as being in the top tier of tackles in this class.

  • While the Patriots didn’t draft any players labeled as tackles, they did pick three offensive linemen – almost in succession. After taking center Jake Andrews in the fourth round to start Day 3, followed by a kicker, they added two more listed interior offensive linemen in Sidy Sow from Eastern Michigan at the end of the fourth round and then Atonio Mafi from UCLA early in the fifth.

    Fans were left wondering why make a run on offensive linemen without addressing the biggest positional need up front? As it turns out the Patriots may have done so, without people realizing it.

    In his post-draft recap, SI’s Albert Breer noted the Patriots may not see Sow at a guard, but a tackle. “I know New England was excited to get Sidy Sow from Eastern Michigan, who has been projected as an interior offensive lineman, and who they got with the pick in the fourth round that they picked up for going back from No. 14 to No. 17 (in the Steelers trade) in the first round,” Breer wrote. “My understanding is they’re gonna try Sow at tackle, where he actually played as a true freshman in 2018.”

  • This isn’t the first hint that the Patriots may be viewing Sow, at the very least, as a multi-positional offensive lineman rather than just a guard. Asked about Sow’s versatility in his post-draft press conference, director of player personnel Matt Groh noted, “these guys will move around. [Offensive line coach Adrian] Klemm will give him opportunities. We’ll try and fit him in the best spot possible. Sidy does have some background at left tackle. He’s been a guard here the last couple years. He’s not a little guy. He’s got plenty of athleticism. He’s got plenty of power. So we’ll see how it goes and try and find the best spot for him.”

    Sow did in fact play left tackle as a freshman at Eastern Michigan, playing 532 snaps over 11 starts at the position. He played left tackle sparingly the next year (46 snaps) but primarily lined up at left guard (790 snaps), which would become his full-time position. Between 2020-2022 he only played left guard, and ended up recording 3,033 snaps at the position in his five-year college career.

    At 6-foot-5, 323 pounds with 33 5/8-inch arms, Sow certainly has the size to play tackle in the NFL. He also appears to have the athleticism, and would have had the second-highest composite athletic testing score of any tackle at the Combine (behind Blake Freeland), had he been classified as a tackle rather than a guard.

    The question will be, can the team refine his technique enough to allow him to play on the edge against NFL rushers? Coming out of Eastern Michigan, footwork was already one of Sow’s biggest rooms for improvement. That’s a skillset that becomes even more emphasized when playing tackle as opposed to playing guard, with more room to account for on the outside.

    So it turns out, the Patriots may have grabbed the Day 3 project tackle many were looking for after all. Sow now becomes one of the top players to watch when spring practices begin later this month, both in terms of where the team lines him up and how he looks in those spots.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 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 [email protected].

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