NFL DRAFT

Bedard: David Andrews is on the mend, but Patriots need a plan at center

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

If there's one thing the Patriots' 2019 season taught us — ok, it taught us many things, especially on offense — it's that blocking and scheme fit should never be taken for granted.

The Patriots' blocking was so good in 2018 that it helped lift an average offense into a Super Bowl winner. It wasn't exactly the most dominating run to a title, but Lombardi trophies aren't given out with style points.

The Patriots could have used that kind of ground and screen attack again with a limited passing offense in '19, but the unit was decimated by a string of absences:

- TE Rob Gronkowski retired;
- TE Dwayne Allen was released;
- LT Trent Brown signed with the Raiders;
- C David Andrews went on IR with blood clots;
- FB James Develin went on IR with a neck injury;
- New TEs Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo couldn't stay on the field;
- Backup C Ted Karras missed a game and was dinged up;
- RG Shaq Mason didn't play to his near-All Pro level.

In short, it was a mess. The entire run-blocking apparatus took a step back and that, compounded with the issues at tight end and receiver, made for a slog offensively for the Patriots.

With health and another year in the system, the receivers should be in decent shape. The tight end position obviously needs to be addressed and could be headed for a double-dip in the draft. The Patriots signed Packers FB Dan Vitale should give them stability in the event Develin can't make it back from a very tough injury (neck) for a fullback.

But center is a big question mark, not only in relation to Andrews' health, but also the future. Security blanket Steady Teddy Karras signed with the Dolphins in free agency, leaving Andrews as the only center on the roster. James Ferentz is a free agent, and isn't considered a viable alternative for the team if a starter is needed.

Andrews is likely to return. He's been in constant contact with the team and there's a lot of optimism that he'll be back at full strength this season. But no one knows