In drafting offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer with the 58th overall pick, the Patriots add a younger prospect to develop along the line, where 11 of the 14 players on the roster enter the final year of their contract.
The only players with deals extending past 2009 are left tackle Matt Light, center Dan Koppen and longer-shot center/guard Ryan Wendell.
The Patriots have Light and Nick Kaczur as their starting tackles. The top backup is Mark LeVoir, with Ryan O'Callaghan and Wesley Britt also on the depth chart. Vollmer figures to learn behind the scenes in 2009 -- Bill Belichick once said that he trusts line coach Dante Scarnecchia as much as anyone to develop young blockers -- before possibly emerging in 2010.
At 6-foot-7, 314 pounds, the German-born Vollmer has what the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide calls "excellent length and a frame to grow into." Yet the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide rated him as a priority free agent.
Vollmer's nickname is "Sea Bass."
- Intelligence/character: Grew up in Germany and didn’t speak much English when he arrived at Houston … Didn’t start playing football until he was 14 … Recruited as a tight end … Emerged as a first-team all-Conference USA performer as a senior but still considered a project … Born Oct. 7, 1984, in Dusseldorf.
- Supporting the run: Usually gets good leverage since he’s taller than most defenders … Former soccer player has pretty good footwork, but there’s not a lot of finesse to his game … Motions are kind of stiff.
- Protecting the quarterback: Good at blitz recognition … Long reach makes him tough to beat on the outside … Even though he played on the left side in college, he won’t be asked to protect Tom Brady’s blindside.
- Size/strength/durability: Definitely could use a little more bulk on his long frame … Missed the 2006 season while recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disk … Started every game at left tackle the last two seasons.
Sources: National Football League, Globe research, and draft analysts from Pro Football Weekly, Ourlads’, and The War Room.