Solid technique and timing are important to any NFL offensive lineman. But for the New England Patriots, intellect is everything.
Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said in a Sirius XM radio interview that the Pats are using the Wonderlic IQ test as a benchmark for potential prospects (via Mazic Brain from Heavy.com):
“They must be smart enough. It’s hard to play with guys who aren’t mentally flexible on the line of scrimmage and they don’t get the checks, and they don’t understand that the pieces are wrapped up, so “if we don’t have that we have to go to this. ‘ They have to be smart, so what does that amount to? I’m not saying everyone has to have a Wonderlic over 30. I’m not saying they have to have a Wonderlic over 20. But Usually for us the definition line is 17,18. Guys below us I found the mistakes they made this week they’re going to make them in two weeks.
The Patriots regularly appear to be among the most powerful offensive line units in the NFL. But last season was a different story.
Veteran center David Andrews missed the entire 2019 campaign and left tackle Isaiah Wynn has only played eight games. Joe Thuney was a staple at the guard post, which is why the Patriots slapped him with the franchise tag this offseason. But overall it was a unit that struggled due to injuries and constant personnel changes.
Andrews is expected to return this year, and the Patriots are hoping Wynn can stay healthy. In any case, Scarnecchia and Co. rely on the intelligence of their group to plan for 2020.