Previous draft pick breakdowns:
Bedard’s Breakdown: What Kyle Dugger’s Senior Bowl film tells us about his Patriots future
Bedard’s Breakdown: Putting Josh Uche’s impressive Senior Bowl in proper and needed context
Bedard’s Breakdown: Coaches will need to find right front seven fit for experienced Anfernee Jennings
Bedard’s Breakdown: 9 plays show why TE Devin Asiasi could be Patriots’ most impactful draft pick
Bedard’s Breakdown: Wouldn’t put Dalton Keene into TE box for Patriots – he might need a new one
Bedard’s Breakdown: Michael Onwenu will have to break the Patriots’ guard mold to stick around
Bedard’s Breakdown: Drafting of Justin Herron fits in well with murky future plan on Patriots’ offensive line
If anyone needed a reminder (maybe this space did), David Andrews' immense value to the Patriots was proven last season. After he was lost for the season with blood clots in his lungs, the Patriots blocking — pass, run, screen ... everything — took a hit.
Now, Andrews' absence didn't end up being the sole reason the blocking struggled — tight end was a disaster and fullback, left tackle, right guard and right tackle took a step back from the previous season — but the situation at center didn't help. Ted Karras was fine as a backup, especially with pass blocking and toughness, but the athletic dropoff from Andrews to Karras meant everything changed with the Patriots' running game, which was so dominant at time in 2018 (we won't get into the two games started and 203 snaps played by James Ferentz, who wasn't NFL caliber and remains unsigned).
With that as a backdrop, we pleaded with the Patriots to have a better plan at center going into 2020 since not even Andrews can say with any finality that he'll remain on the field this entire season. With a handful of good prospects available (including one, Cesar Ruiz, when the Patriots were on the clock in the first round), it appeared the draft would be a good avenue to prepare for the future.
The Patriots, despite having a prospect high on their internal wishlist entering the draft, waited until the seventh round to make Dustin Woodard, who played three years of guard before moving to center as a senior at Memphis, the eighth and final center drafted this year.
While the Patriots have struck gold even in undrafted free agency on the offensive line (Andrews, Stephen Neal, Ryan Wendell), a study of Woodard's game film (plus his draft position) would put his odds at long as far as being a realistic option should Andrews miss time during the season. Could he stick for a year or two? Sure. Out of the Patriots' last 11 seventh-round picks, seven at least suited up for the team.
But with a likely starting quarterback who is basically a rookie in Jarrett Stidham, and after what happened last season with an average veteran backup (Karras), the Patriots likely can't afford to have a player like Woodard playing significant snaps in 2020.
So that leaves us at basically the same question we had to start the offseason: What's the plan at center should the worst happen with Andrews? The answer, according to those who would know, are not promising and include possibly moving one starter to center: