Here is a closer look at Isaiah Wynn, who the Patriots drafted 23rd overall.
College: Georgia. Position: G/T. Height/Weight: 6-3 / 313.
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla. High school: Lakewood.
By the numbers: Wynn played in 51 games, including 41 starts, in four years as a Bulldog. In 2016, he started 12 games at left guard. In 2017, he started all 15 games at left tackle. He was named an Associated Press second-team All-American, as well as AP first-team All-SEC, last season.
Wynn’s high school coach Cory Moore realized early on that Wynn could be a special football player. When Wynn was a freshman at Lakewood, he joined his brother, Aaron, at a practice, and it was then that Wynn solidified a starting spot.
“I knew he was going to be good because of his attention to detail,’’ Moore recently told the Tampa Bay Times. “He wanted to be perfect in everything. He wanted to go against the best. He couldn’t block (Lakewood teammate and current Jacksonville Jaguar DL) Dante Fowler in a phone booth, but nobody else could either. But he wanted to go against those kind of guys. He’s a kid who listens to everything you say.’’
Moore said Wynn’s work ethic was an indication that “he was going to have some longevity in this game.’’
“Isaiah has definitely earned this,’’ Moore said. “He was back here every offseason working out. It would be hard to find anyone who has worked as hard as he has to be in this position.’’
Sizing him up
Wynn, standing at 6-3, purports to be a small left tackle, so much so that former Georgia teammate and outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said some defenders may think Wynn won’t be hard to handle.
“When you line up against Isaiah, you think, ‘Oh he’s a little short guy, he’s not going to be too bad,’’ he said last year. “I’m used to going up against a 6-6, 300-pounder. But man, he’s one of the toughest guys.’’
Former Georgia teammate and tight end Jeb Blazevich called Wynn “the anchor of the offensive line.’’
“We all trust him like he is 6-7,’’ Blazevich said last year.
Running back Nick Chubb even said the Bulldogs’ national title run season might have turned out different had Wynn not lined up for Georgia.
“It’s amazing, he’s not the biggest or tallest but he can do anything pretty much better than anything else. I never question his size,’’ Chubb said. “The kid has heart. He plays hard every single game. Without him, it would be a totally different season. We’re very thankful for him and grateful.’’
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said that although former Bulldog and current Patriots center David Andrews is not “an overpowering, oversized guy,’’ he has immense value from an intelligence standpoint, not unlike Wynn.
“Size doesn’t excite me. What’s inside that helmet does,’’ Smart said. “You know, the first time I saw Isaiah Wynn I didn’t exactly get excited, but I was pretty disappointed when he left. So it’s not a matter of how they look all the time. It’s more about how they play.’’
Switching it up
Wynn made the switch from starting left guard to starting left tackle ahead of his final college season. Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman said Wynn added 10 to 12 pounds before the start of the season, which helped bring about a slight confidence boost. He also said that Wynn’s transformation and improvement from his junior to senior seasons was like night and day.
“Very rarely do you see a guy that’s not a great player as a junior turn into a wonderful player as a senior. Usually it doesn’t happen,’’ Pittman said recently. “He happened that way, and it’s because he got stronger. He bought into techniques. He bought into the room. Once he got confident, it just poured into everybody else.’’
Wynn said the switch gave him the coveted quality of being versatile.
“I’m pretty much able to play any position the team needs me on the line,’’ he said.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, whose unit faced Wynn and Georgia in the Rose Bowl, said Wynn’s athleticism allowed him to take what is a traditional build for a guard and use it successfully at tackle.
“It tells you how athletic he is. His ability to play at that height — you usually want guys who are 6-5 or better out there at tackle,’’ Stoops said. “Obviously they felt he gave them the best opportunity for success. His ability to come off the ball and protect the quarterback has been a big part of their success.’’
Playing through pain
Wynn suffered a torn labrum on Nov. 18 against Kentucky. He played with the injury for the rest of the Bulldogs’ run to the national championship before undergoing surgery on Jan. 30.
“It’s good. It’s good,’’ Wynn said on a conference call Thursday. “Right on track for recovery.’’
He said he should be on track to participate in mini-camp.
Wynn said Georgia was having “a heck of a season,’’ which is why he played with the injury.
“So why let that stop us from getting to where we needed to go?’’ Wynn said in a recent interview.
Smart said Wynn showed his toughness throughout.
“It’s one of those things where Isaiah being an offensive lineman he’s constantly got his hands outside his framework when a guy gets away, and it makes you vulnerable to that injury,’’ Smart said recently. “But it’s also something that sometimes you can’t make worse, you’ve just got to push through, and, boy, he’s a tough guy. Because I would see it come out, see it slip, and he would keep right on playing.’’
Wynn shares positive and motivational messages with his Twitter followers on Wednesdays, like this one from last September: “Negativity preys on the weak and vulnerable. Despite what you’re going through, be strong and persistent. You got it!’’
He started the practice a few years ago, hoping to uplift anyone who would come across it.
“Every week I drop a quote, whether it’s from somebody in my family or somebody that I know,’’ Wynn said. “Trying to put some motivation and inspiration out there every Wednesday.’’
Wynn said he is “very close’’ with David Andrews, who played four years at Georgia, overlapping with Wynn and helping Wynn along the way.
“He was, coming in as a freshman at Georgia, he was one of the guys who was like a big brother and took me under his wing,’’ he said. “I just learned a lot from him coming into my freshman year because as a freshman it’s kind of rough just getting adjusted, but David Andrews helped me a lot. He helped me a lot.’’
Andrew tweeted congratulations to Wynn on Thursday.
Welcome to my dawg @iwynn77 so proud and happy for you brother. Now let’s go to work. Oh yeah dinner is on you!— David Andrews (@dandrews61) April 27, 2018
Wynn was also roommates with running back Sony Michel, who the Patriots drafted at No. 31, their last two years.
Shiny, happy people
Wynn said on a conference call on Thursday that he is “a happy person’’ who is “always smiling.’’
“That’s the first thing you’re always going to see on my face is a smile,’’ he said. “I’m a very physical offensive lineman. Then as well as off the field I’m a family guy and I just love everybody around me. Very lovable guy.’’
Georgia tight end and teammate Isaac Nauta said last fall: “He always has a smile on his face around the locker room. I’ve never seen him mad. He is always a guy that brings good energy.’’
Moore, Wynn’s high school coach, said: “He’s two different people. He’s an animal on the field, but off the field he’s got a big smile. He likes to dress immaculately.’’