With the 78th pick overall of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select OL Joe Thuney from North Carolina State University:
Thuney is a welcome addition to New England. He's a hard-working player and person going to a team that definitely is in need of offensive line help. Thuney comes from NC State after being a starter for the Wolfpack for three seasons with experience playing at all five positions on the offensive line. Let's look back at Thuney's early career to see how he got to where he is today.
Joe Thuney grew up in Centerville, Ohio and attended Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio. He played under well-renowned high school football coach Ed Domsitz and started his junior and senior year. At the same time, he was also a two year starter in basketball as well. He was a member of two Division Four state championship football teams and was even voted the Greater Catholic League Lineman of the Year in 2010. While at Archbishop Alter, Thuney also was the student body president his senior year. He was a three-star athlete (ranked by Rivals) and had offers from Buffalo, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Youngstown State, and North Carolina State. He eventually would commit to North Carolina State in late 2010.
Heading into his freshman year at North Carolina State in 2011, he was redshirted, but it didn't sour him as he was named offensive scout team player of the week for the week of November 6th in preparation for University of North Carolina showdown. Going into his redshirt freshman season, Thuney backed-up eventual Remington Award winner (best center in college football) Camden Wentz. As a sophomore, Thuney started at right tackle for their first game, right guard the second game, and finished the season with ten straight games as their starting left tackle.
Thuney was elected to serve on NC State's leadership council for the team in 2013 while also being given the Jim Ritcher Award for the most valuable offensive lineman for the Wolfpack. During his junior season, Thuney missed four games with an illness but played every offensive snap in the other remaining games as the team's starting left guard. This past season, he shifted back to starting left tackle and played the position the entire season, being named second team all-ACC in the process.
Where Thuney will play for the Patriots is a good question, as offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said that Thuney will play on the interior offensive line for the team "unless disaster" hits. Thuney has experience at both right and left guard along with center, giving the team the ability to shift him along the line to wherever he is needed or performs best. With Shaq Mason, Tre' Jackson, and Jonathan Cooper at the guard position, Joe Thuney could be an immediate back-up for either guard while serving as a third string center behind Bryan Stork and David Andrews.
The team has some deficiencies at tackle, with Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer both coming off injuries while Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming all struggled. Thuney could be an emergency tackle if needed. All in all, Thuney is another versatile offensive lineman who has experience all across the line and joins a young group on the interior where we could see him compete for a starting position at one of the guard positions as early as next season. But for 2016, Thuney will be a valuable back-up.