Quick-hit evaluations of offensive line

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
4:12
PM ET
After some moving and shaking, the Patriots' active roster currently stands at the 53-man limit.

Using training camp practices and preseason games, we'll have a brief scouting report of every player on the Patriots' active roster, highlighting their strengths and limitations. We continue with the offensive line:

Logan Mankins (guard)

Strengths: Dominant strength, power, toughness and nasty. A hard-nosed guy who sets the tempo on the interior of the line. A good athlete with sound footwork, ability to mirror and the anchor to catch and hold up against on-coming rushers. Can move into space and get to defenders at the second level. A leader, workhorse and one of the top guards in all of football. Although he hasn't in New England, can flex to tackle when needed.

Limitations: Not very many holes in his game, although his 2011 year was down compared to the standards set in previous seasons. As season begins, focus will be paid to a surgically-repaired ACL, although has shown few signs of ill effects in camp.

Nate Solder (tackle)

Strengths: Towering left tackle with supreme wing span, length and ability to bend. Has very good athleticism overall. Showed in 2011 he has the anchor to hold up against edge rushers from either side, but needs to be more consistent in his getting his feet in the ground and planting his weight. Has many of the tools needed, but consistency and execution are the keys. Can flex to the right side when needed.

Limitations: Still developing into his own frame. Can add weight and strength to counter bigger defensive linemen. Can slip up on his technique in his sets, leading to his inconsistencies. Overall, important year for Solder to show he can handle the left tackle job full-time.

Dan Connolly (center/guard)

Strengths: Came on in 2011 in relief duty for Dan Koppen, absorbing full time responsibilities at center and performing very well. Has very good athleticism, good power and ability to latch on to defenders. Can play three positions and also brings special teams value on kickoff return and field goal protection team.

Limitations: Not an overly powerful guy and had some moments of underwhelming play in preseason. Can get walked-back by powerful interior players on the bull rush. Not a lot of cracks in his game, solid overall.

Sebastian Vollmer (tackle)

Strengths: Massive right tackle who returned to camp late after dealing with ankle and back problems this offseason. Has good edge and power to his game and is reliable to pass protect as well. Likes contact and is not afraid to mix it up. Can get on defenders and ride them into space. A potential swing tackle if needed.

Limitations: Can play too high and straight in his stance. Has dealt with back issues of late, which can be concerning for any player, especially one of his size. Sufficient ability to move side-to-side. Missed 10 games last season.

Ryan Wendell (center/guard)

Strengths: A pesky technician who makes up for his lack of size. Has good, quick strikes with his hands and placement. Good foot quickness and ability to leverage underneath defenders. Tough. Can play three positions.

Limitiations: The question with Wendell will relate to his ability to hold up in the middle against bigger defenders. Can struggle against power players and in getting into his base and anchoring.

Nick McDonald (center/guard/tackle)

Strengths: Versatility. Has played all five positions along the offensive line. A good athlete, with some power and pop to his game. Light on his feet, can move laterally and has good ability to get to the second level.

Limitations: Not sure that he has one position where he is best-suited, although guard would be likely top candidate. Can struggle with taking on power rushers in his pass sets, getting overwhelmed at times in 1-on-1's. Can continue to improve.

Donald Thomas (guard)

Strengths: A sturdy, solid, good short-area player at the guard position. Has good power, can counter interior rushers and can anchor in pass sets. Also can flex over to center and has developed nicely since joining New England.

Limitations: Not an elite athlete and not dominant at the point of attack. Can be a little tight-hipped in his movements and can be caught when having to move laterally.

Marcus Cannon (tackle)

Strengths: If he gets his hands on you, has very good pop. Good going forward in his driving movements. Has very good frame and can continue to bulk up and grow into his own body.

Limitations: Really struggled in getting out of stance. Played too high in preseason. Can be beaten off the edge by speed and quickness rushers. A player who may end up being better suited as a guard because of his difficulties in mirroring edge rushers. For now, the Patriots' reserve at right tackle.

Matt Tennant (center)

Strengths: Digging back into the archives from my preparation for the 2010 NFL draft, Tennant was seen as a cerebral, technical and dependable center who could move his feet and leverage underneath defenders.

Limitations: A smaller guy who can be overpowered up the middle. Does not have positional versatility, limited to just the center position.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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