FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio tipped New England’s hand in his pre-draft news conference earlier this month.
When asked about potential holes or needs on the Patriots’ roster, Caserio said the Patriots like to add good players regardless of position. He noted how the Patriots drafted Nate Solder when they already had Matt Light at left tackle.
They pulled a similar move with their second pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Friday, when they traded with the Detroit Lions to move up and grab Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia when they already have Solder at left tackle.
Garcia was NESN.com’s top offensive line fit in the 2017 NFL Draft after running a 5.15-second 40-yard dash with a 1.81-second 10-yard split, 31-inch vertical leap, 9-foot broad jump, 7.70-second three-cone and 4.94-second short shuttle at 6-foot-6, 302 pounds.
Garcia didn’t allow a sack during the 2016 season, letting up just one QB hit and six hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. Garcia rated better as a pass blocker than run blocker during his senior season, per PFF.
Garcia could eventually take over the Patriots’ starting left tackle role, depending on how long Solder sticks around. He likely will begin his career by playing tight end when the Patriots go heavy on offense. He also could potentially fill in for Marcus Cannon if the starting right tackle goes down with an injury.
Garcia’s selection likely spells the end for veteran offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Garcia could back up Cameron Fleming as the Patriots’ swing tackle in 2017 as a rookie. Fleming and Solder both are in the final years of their contracts.
The Patriots have three selections left in the 2017 NFL Draft at No. 131 in the fourth round, 183 in the fifth round and No. 239 in the seventh round.
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