The New England Patriots hope David Andrews will be ready to go in 2020 after missing the 2019 season with blood clots. It appears as though the team is moving forward in the belief that the 27-year-old, two-time Super Bowl winner will be the man snapping the ball to Jarrett Stidham in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. However, if Andrews should suffer a setback of any kind, related or unrelated to what he experienced in 2019, the Patriots have to be ready.
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In 2019, they turned to Ted Karras who filled in admirably for Andrews. Karras left in free agency for the Miami Dolphins, along with Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts. At this point, if the Patriots find themselves in need of a center, they will have to turn to a rookie, seventh-round draft pick Dustin Woodard out Memphis.
That might sound like a bad idea to some, or reason for panic, but if you talk to people who are familiar with his work ethic, style of play, and the way the Patriots have worked with similar size and fashioned offensive linemen, it might ease your mind a little.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic talked about the undersized workhorse and put him in some pretty esteemed company with a few eye-opening player comparisons.
“Woodard sounds like Logan Mankins and Bryan Stork, or maybe even David Andrews, Ted Karras or Ryan Wendell,” Howe wrote. “Patriots head coach Bill Belichick tends to track down interior linemen with similar qualities. At 6-foot-1, 295 pounds, it’s understandable why teams would overlook the undersized Woodard, who started 52 consecutive games and compiled a number of athletic and academic awards at Memphis.”
Undersized is generally not an easily overcome label, and it often proves to be a deficiency that supersedes the heart and other qualities a football player may possess. However, the Patriots have thrived with interior lineman–centers to be more specific–who have had similar frames.
But Woodard won’t be an outlier in Foxboro. For much of the past two decades, Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly, Wendell, Stork, Andrews and Karras held down the starting center responsibilities. Their average size was 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, a weight Woodard should attain with a pro strength program.
Woodard might be one of those guys who couldn’t have been a success in every NFL city. Football is a scheme-driven sport as much as any in existence. We’ve likely never seen some of what could have been the greatest players in history because they never found themselves in the right scheme fit.
Woodard’s college coach Syan Silverfield couldn’t be happier with where his star O-Lineman landed.
“When (the Patriots) picked him, I was like, he couldn’t have gone to a better place,” Silverfield said. “It’s a perfect spot for him, and it’s a great marriage. It’s perfect for both situations.”
We shall see.