Don Juan Moore/Getty ImagesIs Tre’ Jackson the solution at guard?

Understandably, most New England Patriots fans will focus their attention on the defense during training camp.  It’s the side of the ball where the Pats lost four starters, after all, including 60 percent of their nickel package secondary personnel.
But while the offense’s continuity won’t generate as many headlines (setting aside the Tom Brady saga, of course), one prominent hole does exist in the starting lineup.  Though the Pats may have spackled together an interior offensive line last season capable of avoiding self-destruction, that does not mean they have found an adequate replacement for former All-Pro left guard Logan Mankins.
Dan Connolly certainly wasn’t spectacular in Mankins’ stead, but the heady vet provided a fail-safe option that got the offense through the season.  Following Connolly’s retirement, though, the Patriots could be facing a bevy of suboptimal solutions.
Enter Tre’ Jackson, a fourth-round rookie with Week 1 starting potential given his extensive starting experience at Florida State.  Jackson claims the knee issues that caused him to slip to Day 3 are in the rearview mirror, but is it reasonable to expect him to seize the left guard spot in training camp?  Looking at the film, stats and surrounding personnel, let’s look at the player who could address the biggest issue on New England’s offense.

Switching Sides

Share
Tweet

Embed

In a relatively nondescript guard class, Jackson falling to the fourth round might stand out as one of the better values.  Both NFL.com and NFL Draft Scout projected the Florida State product as a Round 2 to Round 3 prospect, but reported failed physicals likely caused a pro-ready Day 2 prospect to slip to Day 3.
We’ll address those potential health issues in a second, but let’s focus on Jackson’s on-field value for a second.  The most obvious problem with penciling him as a starting left guard is that Jackson has never actually played the position.  In a post-draft press conference, Bill Belichick specifically noted how Florida State kept him pinned on the right side of the line:

“It’s got to be in the high 90 percent at right guard” — #Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Tre’ Jackson’s action at Florida State.
— Glen Farley (@GFarley_ent) May 3, 2015

Bill Belichick notes that most of Tre Jackson’s experience has come at right guard. Signals that could be more his fit …Read More