Isaiah Wynn and the Patriots: A Match Made in Heaven

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Former Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn was one of the highest risers prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. Although he played the most important position on the offensive line for one of the best teams in the entire country, it wasn’t until the week of the Senior Bowl that his draft stock really started to take off. Wynn put on a clinic against some of the best competition in the country, routinely winning his reps during 1-on-1’s. He masterfully corralled every dominant defensive linemen and linebacker that was put in front of him.

Unsurprisingly, Wynn was awarded the Practice Player of the Week for offensive linemen to cap off his spectacular performance in Mobile.

In the months to follow, analysts and draft pundits watched his draft stock soar. In the first round of the NFL Draft, Wynn was selected 23rd overall by the New England Patriots. Of all the places that Wynn could have landed and helped immediately, the Patriots were the best case scenario. In terms of maximizing the potential within, this is the place for him.

Like A Glove

The Patriots and the term “running back by committee” have been synonymous over the last several seasons and things aren’t changing in 2018. With a stable of backs that now includes Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, James White, and Wynn’s fellow first round pick Sony Michel, the offense can do a lot of things whenever they feel like it.

What this allows the Patriots to do is a keep an extremely varied and multiple offense. However, the offense can only be multiple and successful if the offensive line is able to keep up with the variance. This means that players like center Dave Andrews and former left tackle Nate Solder had to be well-versed in just about anything coach Bill Belichick could throw at them. Good thing Mr. Kraft and BB were able to land arguably the most versatile linemen in the entire draft.

Straight from the Inside The Pylon 2018 Draft Guide, here’s what the we had to say about the former Bulldog left tackle:

Like the majority, we believe Wynn will be a very successful guard at the next level. Some, including myself, believe that he should get a fair shot at playing at a tackle position as well before pigeonholing him to the inside. After all, with Solder leaving for New York, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Belichick try out Wynn at left tackle.

Regardless of scheme, Wynn can slide right and in and thrive from the get-go. Zone? Check. Power? Check. Asking your linemen to pull out into space and take on much smaller, quicker defenders? Check, check, check.

Take a look at this outside zone play against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal:

This is one of my favorite plays from my time scouting Wynn. Against an 8-man box, Wynn performs a “fold” block with the tight end on outside zone. As the TE crashes down on the inside defender, Wynn pulls off of his backside and essentially becomes the lead-blocker for Nick Chubb.

He does a phenomenal job of keeping his eyes downfield and squares up his shoulder right before delivering a blow on contact. By attacking the playside number of the defender, Wynn gave Chubb a seam up the sideline instead of forcing Chubb to cut it back inside towards a mob of Sooners.

Here is another example of Wynn’s fundamentals on a traditionally blocked outside zone:

Wynn works to Da’Shawn Hand’s playside number and immediately starts working his hips to the outside, completing the seal-block. If the left guard didn’t get blown up on this play, Michel could have kept his tracks to the outside and worked off the block of the wide receiver.

In this play, Wynn has OU’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (#31) shaded to the outside. Keeping a stellar base, Wynn squares up on Okoronkwo and drives through contact while leveraging his inside shoulder until the DE is out of the picture.

Yes, it’s a simple dive play, but Okoronkwo was tops among FBS Edge defenders in run stops on the season. So you know he can play the run as good as anybody. Not a flashy play, but the best linemen know how to make even the simplest of fundamentals look great.

Athleticism

Even without any athletic testing from the combine or UGA’s pro day, it’s obvious that Wynn possesses some elite athleticism for his size and position. He is undersized for an NFL left tackle, just barely 6-foot-3, and has insanely small hands by NFL standards at 8 ½”, yet none of his shortcomings showed up on film nor did they give scouts caution in their evaluation. He’s an amazing football player, period.

I saw far too many “Nevada left tackle Austin Corbett is this year’s Forrest Lamp” player comparisons for my liking prior to the NFL Draft and I’m here to tell you that this comparison is quite false. If there is anyone near Lamp’s technical savviness from this class, it is Isaiah Wynn. Just throw on the Alabama games and it’s not hard to see. Like Lamp, Wynn put on a clinic on how to handle the talent-spewing volcano that is the Crimson Tide defense.

It honestly didn’t matter which first-round pick lined up across from Wynn, they all found the same level of success…which was none. Whether it was DT Da’Ron Payne and his bull-rush, LB Rashaan Evans attempting to bend the corner, or DB Minkah Fitzpatrick trying to sneak by, their attempts were all nullified.

This is another one of my favorite plays while watching the tape of Wynn. He picks up Minkah Fitzpatrick, who he will see twice a year in the AFC East, coming on a blitz from the slot. The giddy-up in his kick-slide is evident as he meets Fitzpatrick with squared shoulders about four yards into the backfield. Wynn won the hand position battle and promptly takes the much smaller defender for a ride.

In the following play, the Bulldogs run a simple inside zone play that gets clogged up playside, forcing Michel to cut it back slightly behind Wynn and his left guard. As Rashaan Evans reads and anticipates where the running lane will be, he mirrors Michel into the C gap but Wynn is able to stick his foot in the ground and redirect in to Evans, creating the new running lane between him and his left guard.

Many young offensive linemen get caught with too much momentum when they are headed to the second level. Delivering a hard shot to a smaller defender will always be a tantalizing option, but it’s a mindset that can get yourself “Ole-d” really quickly. Next thing you know you’re watching your assignment stick the running back at the line of scrimmage. Wynn possesses the elite body control and anticipation to know exactly when he needs to throttle-down and stick his foot in the ground to redirect his momentum.

It’s A Match!

Belichick and company have always been able to work wonders with players who weren’t touted as top-tier draft prospects. Their history of trading down and collecting a hoard of lower picks has been well-documented over the years. However, following a year they went to the Super Bowl, the Patriots pulled a very non-patriot move as they made a trade to acquire a second pick within the first round of the draft. And again they surprised the world by staying put and using both picks instead of shopping them for something/someone else.

They wound up with a potential franchise running back while acquiring a jack-of-all-trades that will wind up being an exception to the phrase “master of none” in Georgia lineman Isaiah Wynn. The rest of the NFL should continue to be very, very afraid of Tom Brady and the Patriots while expecting the stranglehold on the AFC East to continue for the foreseeable future.

This is Michael’s first piece for Inside the Pylon! Follow him on Twitter @ZoneTracks.

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