The Patriots took NC offensive lineman Joe Thuney with pick No. 78. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)
FOXBORO — As the Patriots learned last season, versatility along the offensive line can come in real handy.
In an effort to stockpile depth along the offensive line and to stay younger, the Patriots took one of the more versatile quality offensive linemen available with their second pick of the night on Friday. They selected Joe Thuney out of North Carolina State.
How versatile was the talent worked out by Dante Scarnecchia before the draft? He started four of the five positions on the offensive line, with center being the only position missing from his impressive resume. The Patriots covered that angle by having Thuney snap some balls for Scarnecchia during the workout.
Where does Thuney (silent ‘H’) see himself fitting in?
“I think I see myself as more of an interior guy: more as guard, center. If it gets to a pinch in the game, I can go at tackle but it’s really wherever coach wants me to play. And I have experience at all five so wherever he sees me best, I think that’s the best fit for me,” Thuney said.
“Just on the interior, I feel more comfortable. I don’t have the typical length of a typical NFL tackle but I feel like I move and pull and have the leverage on the interior”
“Throughout college I’ve always been open to whatever position the coaches needed. I’ve never had a set position in mind. As the process has gone on further and further, I’ve kind of realized where my strengths lie as a player and I think that the interior probably is where the coaches see that.”
Thuney, who said he hasn’t been told where he’ll play exactly, enters an environment where he’ll be competing against the likes of Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson for playing time along the interior line.
“That’s why I love to compete,” Thuney said. “The Patriots are a tremendous organization, one of the best in the NFL. I couldn’t be prouder to get drafted by them. All I can do is just go in there and work my hardest and see what happens.”
As for the Scarnecchia presence?
“He came to my pro day and we sat down before and went over some film and board stuff and went over some plays and hashed that out. He worked me out with the different drills,” Thuney said. “I have a really good relationship with him, I think, and we got along well, and I’m going to be happy to play for him.
“The first thing I noticed was just that he’s very passionate. I have to respect that. I love that about a coach, he’s just very passionate about his players and the game of football. I really respond to that and I really look forward to working with him in the future.”
Nick Caserio call Thuney “one of the smartest” players they came across in the scouting process. To that point, he graduated before his junior year at N.C. State.
“I graduated with a degree in accounting in 2014,” Thuney said. “Then for the past year and a half, I’ve been working towards another degree in international studies and a minor in Spanish. I just wanted to expand my studies and explore everything that college had to offer.”
Why the attention to the school work? Pretty simple to Thuney.
“The NFL, you can’t play in there for 40 years,” Thuney said. “You have to have a life after the NFL eventually. I’d love to be able to travel and work at the same time. I love seeing different parts of the world. I think if you could combine work with travel, it would be great.”
Toward the end of the call, he was informed his teammate and quarterback at N.C. State, Jacoby Brissett had been drafted by the Patriots.
“No way. That’s awesome,” Thuney beamed. “Great leader, great teammate, loved playing for the guy. He did a really good job at NC State, and I couldn’t be happier to hear that news. He was always putting in extra time in the film room. He was there before practice, always before anyone else. He just is always so enthusiastic and always optimistic and positive. It was fun to play for him and he just exuded confidence.
“He’s very confident. He is very assured. Even if it’s a bad play or he had a 40-yard pass play, he’s very level-headed, even keeled. You know what you are going to get from him, and just a great guy to play with.”