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Patriots are hoping one newcomer can make a significant change in the NFL

Patriot helmet on the bench

August 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; A New England Patriots helmet sits on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots had major issues on their offensive line last season, and they’re hoping one newcomer can step outside his comfort zone to change that in 2024.

Many were surprised when the Patriots drafted former Penn State offensive lineman Caedan Wallace in the third round last week. New England’s biggest need at the position was at left tackle, and Wallace played almost exclusively on the right side in his 40 college starts. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots are hoping Wallace can make the transition to left tackle.

Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein told Reiss that Wallace only took practice reps at left tackle, but Trautwein is confident Wallace can make the transition.

β€œHe hasn’t done any game reps, but he’s done a lot of practice reps because I always make sure they develop on both,” Trautwein said. β€œI don’t want them to just be a ‘right tackle’ because I want them to have a long career and get on the field as quickly as possible. His career was just different, but I wouldn’t hesitate to put him on the left side.”

The Patriots re-signed Mike Onwenu to a three-year deal worth $57 million this offseason. They also signed veteran free agent Chukwuma Okorafor, who played primarily right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers the past six seasons. New England’s coaching staff hopes Okorafor can also transition to left tackle.

We can think of one positional battle that will draw far more attention than anything happening along the offensive line in New England, but Wallace will be a player to watch during training camp. If he and/or Okorafor have trouble adjusting to playing on the left side, the Patriots could have serious depth issues right from the start.