Countdown to Kickoff: Profile on New England Patriots No. 62 Joe Thuney

The Countdown to Kickoff series continues on with a look at New England Patriots rookie offensive lineman Joe Thuney, who will be looking to earn an immediate starting position up front.

There are exactly 62 days until the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers open up the 2016 NFL regular season with a Super Bowl rematch. In the meantime, we at NFL Spin Zone are going to profile a player each day as we countdown the days to kickoff.

The Countdown to Kickoff series began with a look at No. 99 Joey Bosa and has continued on everyday since (check out all of the posts here).

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce would have probably been the obvious choice here, and I also considered Indianapolis Colts rookie OT Le’Raven Clark, but it is another rookie we are going to look at today.

Let’s take a look at New England Patriots rookie offensive lineman Joe Thuney.

Thuney was the second player who the Patriots selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, as they picked up the North Carolina State product in the third round (78th overall).

Thuney played all over the offensive line at N.C. State, playing right tackle, right guard and center before being a full-time left guard as a junior in 2014. Thuney then became the team’s starting left tackle as a senior last season, and showed real upside at all positions.

While he has experience playing everywhere, Thuney likely enters the NFL as only an interior offensive lineman. He has the athleticism to play on the outside, but Thuney’s slight frame and short arms would give him a clear disadvantage at tackle.

That being said, he has an extremely high ceiling as an interior offensive lineman for the Pats. Thuney is considered to be an extremely smart player who can pick up his responsibilities in the offense quickly.

Talent-wise, he moves his feet extremely well for an offensive lineman, showing extremely high-level athleticism and quickness up front. Thuney is a great pass protector who could become elite in that department on the interior.

His lack of bulk leaves a bit to be desired as a run blocker, but Thuney shows great technique and his quickness allows him to reach the second-level with ease most of the time. He can also pull and get out ahead as a lead blocker extremely well.

The Patriots’ interior offensive line situation for 2016 is extremely interesting. Both Bryan Stork and David Andrews are strong starting caliber options at center. Also, guys like Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Tre’ Jackson and Josh Kline will figure heavily in to the mix at guard.

Thuney will have to come in and immediately impress if he is going to win a starting job. That being said, he certainly has the talent and ability to make it happen. I think his skills as a pass blocker give Thuney an edge for a starting job right now.

If he comes in and impresses in training camp, I think Thuney has a strong chance to be the Patriots’ primary left guard in 2016. I could also see the Patriots looking to give him some opportunity at center, but with Stork and Andrews on the roster, there is unlikely to be many snaps available there.

Thuney is a talented player who has a bright future in the NFL. I think the Patriots found a diamond in the rough in Thuney in the third-round.

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