Ryan L. Fox
When you’re a first round pick in the NFL Draft, you are considered to be a top tier player that a franchise can either build around or count on for success for multiple years. However sometimes that may not be the case as injuries, off-field issues, etc. can often derail a career before it begins. Then those draft picks are often given the label ‘bust’.
One such former 1st round pick is facing that dilemma right now in New England Patriots LT Isaiah Wynn.
After missing the entire 2018 NFL season with a torn Achilles tendon, the former Georgia Bulldog faces a tough road in the NFL as he is given the task of guarding the blind side of arguably one of the top QBs in NFL history. Can Wynn do that and become an important part of the Patriots down the road or will he join the ranks of many former first round busts.
Full Name: Isaiah Emmanuel Wynn
Date of Birth: December 9, 1996
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Florida
Age Going into 2019 NFL Regular Season: 22 (will turn 23 this December 9)
Position: Offensive Tackle
Secondary Position: Offensive Guard
Acquired: Drafted in 1st Round by the New England Patriots (23rd overall) during 2018 NFL Draft
School: University of Georgia
Background Prior to College
Wynn attended Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Coming out of his senior year in 2014, Wynn was considered to be a 4-Star recruit (according to 247Sports.com) and a top-10 guard prospect in the entire USA. After being courted by many schools (including University of Florida, Penn State, Auburn), Wynn decided to sign with the University of Georgia.
In his first year with the Georgia Bulldogs in 2014, Wynn played in 11 games while starting in 1. Wynn helped the Bulldogs rush for an average 257.8 yards per game, (1st in the SEC) and finish with a 9-3 regular season record before getting invited to play University of Louisville in the 2014 Belk Bowl. The Bulldogs ended up winning the game 37-14 to finish the 2014 season with a final record of 10-3.
In his sophomore 2015, Wynn won the starting job at left guard as he played in all 12 regular season games for the Bulldogs (9-3), including in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The Bulldogs were then invited to take on Penn State in the TaxSlayer Bowl as they won 24-17 to finish the 2015 at a final record of 10-3.
In his junior year in 2016, Wynn started in 11 of the 12 regular season games that year at left guard and started in the Liberty Bowl as well. He ended up missing the game against Louisiana-Lafayette on November 19 due to injury, ending a streak of 23 consecutive games started (from 2015 to 2016). The Bulldogs ended up going 7-5 in the regular season before getting invited to play Texas Christian in the Liberty Bowl. The Bulldogs ended up winning that game 31-23 to finish the 2016 season at 8-5.
In his senior year in 2017, Wynn started in 12 games in the regular season at left tackle. He also started in the SEC Championship game, the Rose Bowl, and the College Football Championship Game. He was able to pave the way for a Bulldogs rushing attack of 258.4, which ranked 9th overall in NCAA Division I football. Wynn was named to the 2017 Associated Press All-America 2nd Team, the 2017 American Football Coaches Association All-America 2nd Team, the 2017 Phil Steele All-America 3rd Team, and was named to both the 2017 Coaches’ & AP All-SEC 1st Team. As a team, the Bulldogs ended up going 11-1 in the regular season game to finish No. 7 overall in the AP Polls.
The Bulldogs then climbed to No. 3 overall in the polls with a 28-7 victory over the No. 4 Auburn Tigers in the SEC championship to earn a berth in the College Football Playoffs. They out lasted No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl 54-48 before taking on SEC Rival and No. 4 overall Alabama in the College Football Championship. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs ended up falling to the Crimson Tide in overtime on the final score of 26-23 to finish the 2017 season with a final record of 13-2 and No. 2 overall in the polls.
NFL Combine & NFL Scouting
Wynn was invited to the Senior Bowl but ended up missing the NFL Combine due to having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum he suffered back in November.
Wynn was considered by many scouts as a top lineman prospect. He was considered very athletic and quick/mobile, had excellent footwork and can get out in space to block downfield on a run/screen play, had ‘sneaky power’ in his blocking game, and has great block technique (can counter pass rush moves like ‘swim’, ‘spin’, and ‘bullrush’). Scouts were also keen on the fact Wynn has versatility to his game, being able to play inside at guard or kick out to tackle. Not to mention Wynn displayed a ‘warrior’s mentality’ when it came to workouts as film study, was focused on trying to improve in areas like blocking skill, footwork, etc. in order to get better, and displayed a selflessness/’team-first’ mentality.
However, one major factor that hampered Wynn was his size. Although he has good footwork, technique, and tremendous work ethic, Wynn was considered ‘undersized’ (6’3” and 313 lbs, arm length of 33 3/8”, hand size 8 ½”) to play either tackle position at the NFL level. He also tends to just ‘stalemate’ his opponents, meaning he will be able to slow down a defender on his path to the ball but won’t knock him out of the play or ‘pancake’ him as well.
Coming into the 2018 NFL draft, Wynn was ranked as the 3rd best OL prospect as well as the 19th best graded prospect overall coming out of college. Many scouts projected him to be taken as early as late 1st round but no later than the 2nd round pick.
When Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft came on April 26, the New England Patriots used their first 1st round pick (23rd pick overall) in that draft to select Wynn.
He then signed a 4 yr/ $11,441,903 rookie deal with the Patriots on June 22. This deal included a $6,401,384 signing bonus and $11,441,993 guaranteed.
NFL Career Prior to 2019
There were some skeptics about whether or not the Patriots had made the right move in drafting Wynn. Most Patriots fans would have rather preferred the team to take Alabama WR Calvin Ridley (who went 3 picks later to the Atlanta Falcons at 26th overall) seeing as how the receiving corp was questionable and wanting to give QB Tom Brady a weapon.
However it was his versatility on the offensive line that drew the Patriots’ attention with Wynn having the ability to play both tackle positions as well as guard. Wynn joined the team for offseason workouts and OTAs. Under the tutelage of longtime Patriots offensive lineman Dante Scarnecchia, Wynn was able to pick up the offensive blocking schemes. But during the second preseason game against the Philadelphian Eagles, Wynn ended up tearing his Achilles tendon and was placed on the season-ending IR list.
Wynn remained on the IR as the Patriots went through the 2018 before capping it off by winning Super Bowl LIII over the Los Angeles Rams.
2019 NFL Pre-Season
It’s been a rocky start for Wynn in the 2019 NFL off season as the Patriots held him out of most physical activities during training camp as he worked his way back from his injury. However the Patriots brought in other linemen (i.e. OL Dan Skipper) to play the position of LT while Wynn was recovering.
When Wynn was fully recovered and deemed ready to participate in physical contact drills, he rejoined the team on the 1st-team offensive line.
Although he missed the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions, Wynn participated in the second preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. He played just 3 series but didn’t allow QB Brian Hoyer to be rushed or hit by any Titans defender. Wynn also was able to make a key block on the Patriots’ first touchdown of the game.
In most recent action, he started in the third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at left tackle the at home this past Thursday, August 22. Against a more prominent defensive line, Wynn was tasked in protecting Brady’s blind side and did an adequate job. There weren’t that many standout blocks but Wynn didn’t commit any costly holding penalties while other Patriots linemen did. Like in the game against the Titans, Wynn helped keep Brady upright and not allow any pressures or sacks. In the running game, he was able to block off the defensive end that allowed teammate RB Sony Michel to burst through the hole.
Regardless of whether or not Tom Brady is going to remain with the Patriots beyond the 2019 NFL season, one thing is for certain that Wynn has the potential of becoming an important piece in both the offensive line and the Patriots franchise for many years to come.
Aside from the physical attributed needed to succeed as an NFL offensive linemen, Wynn displays the traits of the Patriot way (hardworking, selfless, versatile, team-first mentality) and is always willing to improve and grow as a player.
However there are still two major questions that surround the 2018 1st round pick:
Can he bounce back from his torn Achilles injury that forced him to miss all of 2018?
Will he be remain playing at the tackle position or will the Patriots kick him inside to play more at guard?
Only Wynn and the Patriots know the answer.
Read More 990WBOB