For the most part, the Patriots are set on their offensive line and have plenty of options.
Isaiah Wynn was a first-round pick and flashed that potential at left tackle last season.
Marcus Cannon is solid, if unspectacular, and Yodney Cajuste was a third-round pick last year and should be at least a backup at both tackle spots. Korey Cunningham, acquired in a trade from the Cardinals, is still around.
Even if Joe Thuney is traded on his franchise tag, the Patriots have options with Jermaine Eluemunor (trade, Ravens) and fourth-round pick Hjalte Froholdt. Shaq Mason should be back to his All-Pro form this season after being beat up last year.
But center, as we have already laid out, is a question mark and needs to be addressed, perhaps in this draft.
David Andrews is expected back from blood clots, but his future is unknown. Ted Karras signed with the Dolphins. That's it for what the Patriots have, unless Froholdt or someone else can play center.
If the Patriots expect to fill that sizeable depth hole in this draft, it appears they'll have to go there early — perhaps in the first round, if not the second.
Michigan's Cesar Ruiz, despite being just 20, looks to be the most pro-ready player and could start Day 1. LSU's Lloyd Cushenberry is close, probably more in the second-round range. But after that, there's a big dropoff and the chances of them hitting decrease.
While tackle, for sure, or even guard has classes that are deep, the center spot is very thin — unless there's some unknown high school wrestler or other hidden gem no one else has identified. It should be interesting to see how the Patriots feel about their center spot with what they do in the first three rounds.
Ranking and evaluating the top centers, tackles and guards in this draft:
Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (6-2.5, 307, 5.11, Round 1-2): Very efficient, professional player who is not yet 21. Huge 11-inch hands. Resets his feet and hands quickly. Works double teams and to the second level very well. Smart player who sees pressure early and doesn't panic. Played very well against Alabama in the bowl game. Does everything the Patriots like to do. Still has room to get much better.
Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU (6-3, 312, 5.27, Round 1-2): Might be the most athletic center in the class and gets to the second level in about .5 seconds if he's uncovered. Absurdly long arms. Team captain as a junior. High-character guy. Also showed well against Alabama and at Senior Bowl.
Matt Hennessey, Temple (6-4, 307, 5.18, Round 2-3): Good, solid player in all areas but on film he's a limited athlete, similar to Ted Karras. But he tested off the charts for the position. Something is amiss. Late to diagnose late pressure. Not much of a mauler. More finesse.
Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (6-3.5, 314, n/a, Round 3-4): Solid player, more of a mauler than anything. Better run blocker. Struggles at times getting in front of his pads on pass protection. Reaches a lot. Limited athlete.
Trystan Colon-Castillo, Missouri (6-3, 313, 5.20, 6-7): Won't wow you in any area but he anchors well against rushers, doesn't get jerked back and can make blocks on the second level in the run game. Can also play guard. Has a lot of upside in his game, which makes him intriguing. Smart player who identifies fronts easily.
Danny Pinter, Ball State (6-4, 306, 4.88, 6-7): Former TE moved to right tackle but much of the scouting community sees him moving to center or guard. Anything is going to be a projection for him and may be a project. Smart, terrific athlete. Arms (less than 32 inches) are going to be a problem playing tackle so he has to move inside.
Jake Hanson, Oregon (6-4, 303, 5.50, Round 6-7): Doesn't have ideal playing strength but is smart, tough and rarely gets beat. Very good technique and nasty attitude.
BEST OF THE REST: Nick Harris, Washington; Keith Ismael, San Diego State; Darryl Williams, Mississippi State; Cohl Cabral, Arizona State; Justin Herron, Wake Forest.
Andrew Thomas, Georgia (6-5, 315, 5.22, 1): Day 1 starter. Looks the part, good enough feet. Smart, great intangibles. Very low bust rate. Looks like a natural franchise left tackle. At worst, he's an all-pro right tackle. Lacks a little bit with finish and aggression but excellent prospect.
Mekhi Becton, Louisville (6-7.5, 364, 5.10, Round 1): Has the biggest upside of any player. Just a huge person to the point he has trouble getting into a three-point stance. Raw but all the pieces are there. He's just tough to get around. Kicked Clemson's butt all over the field. Reminiscent of Bryant McKinnie or Trent Brown.
Jedrick Wills, Alabama (6-4, 312, 5.05, Round 1-2): Played right tackle to protect Tua Tagovailoa's blind side. Not as high on him as most. Best attribute is a nasty attitude that he loves to display as a drive blocker. Not an elite athlete for the position. May just be a RT or guard.
Austin Jackson, USC (6-5, 322, 5.07, Round 1-2): Was a bone marrow donor for his sister before final season and it affected his play as he showed very tight hips. Has a lot of upside. Very good athlete whose best play is ahead of him. Will need some refinement and might be best as a RT in Year 1 and then making the transition. Not over rough and tumble. Held his own early against Iowa's AJ Epenesa and then got dominated. Didn't get very good coaching.
Ezra Cleveland, Boise State (6-6, 311, 4.93, 1-2): Has the look of a 10-year starter right now. Great balance and technique in pass protection. Lacks power in the running game. Doesn't have much of a ceiling but what's there right now is pretty good. Bryan Bulaga type from the Packers.
Josh Jones, Houston (6-5, 319, 5.27, Round 1-2): The basketball-type left tackle. Very athletic. Things look easy in pass protection but technique needs work after a rough coaching situation at Houston. Not the most dominant of run blockers. Great mirror. Dancing bear.
Isaiah Wilson, Georgia (6-6.5, 350, 5.37, Round 2): Enormous player who loves to punish on down blocks ala Trent Brown. Not the greatest feet right now but will develop in time. Hands are an issue and will need to be coached up. May just be a right tackle.
BEST OF THE REST: Matt Peart, UConn; Ben Bartsch, St. John's; Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn; Lucas Niang, TCU; Saahdiq Charles, LSU; Jack Driscoll, Auburn; Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon.
Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (6-5, 320, 4.87, Round 1): Played tackle for the Hawkeyes but most potential is at guard where he could be an All-Pro talent. Some teams will see a starting right tackle with some LT potential. Dominating run blocker. Great athlete. Did not last long as a LT at Iowa in spurts.
Robert Hunt, Louisiana (6-5, 323, n/a, Round 1-2): Previously started at LG but moved to RT this past season. Has the look of a 10-year pro right now with some tightening up in his technique (he can get out of balance and yanked around). Plays mean and will get after people. Really nice feet and improved balance appears to be a Brian Waters-type player.
John Simpson, Clemson (6-4, 321, 5.24, Round 2-3): Elite at working angles in the run game. Not the most powerful guy and is a little slow off the ball. Bigger type guard but not as great a mover as you would like to see. Needs to get more consistent as a pass blocker.
Ben Bredeson, Michigan (6-4.5, 315, n/a, 3-4): Team captain may not have high-ceiling athletic skills and is a little stiff, but the kid knows how to play and is pro-ready. Very nasty and sustains his blocks. Flies to the second level. Started 46 games. Short arms (31 1/8) will kill him with a lot of teams. Would like to see if he can play center.
Shane Lemieux, Oregon (6-4, 310, 5.11, 3-4): Holy crap, if you want a brawler and a tough guy on your line, this is your man. He's legit mean during plays. Little bit stiff and is a power blocker. But looks like a Day 1 starter. Think Richie Incognito without the baggage. Team captain.
Damien Lewis, LSU (6-2, 327, 5.24, 3-4): Powerful little player who really loves finishing a play. Would be a great prospect if teams knew he could play center but there are concerns on whether he can handle the checks there. Size is a concern but you won't see many more get after run blocking like he does. Like a shorter, less athletic Shaq Mason.
Jonah Jackson, Ohio State (6-3 1/2, 306, 5.23, 3-4): Rutgers transfer doesn't look the part, but he improved when he received better coaching. Good football player, smart and tough. Should play quickly but ceiling is limited.
BEST OF THE REST: Netane Muti, Fresno State; Logan Sternberg, Kentucky; Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas; Kevin Dotson, Louisiana, Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson; Solomon Kindley, Georgia.