Spotlight on OL prospects in town

On Friday, a short list of some prospects who took pre-draft visits with the Patriots was passed along. Such a visit could mean a lot of things, which is important context to consider. It could be a medical check-up, something related to off-field questions or maybe more X’s and O’s based. A visit also gives head coach Bill Belichick a chance to get to know a prospect, which is naturally important.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at two offensive linemen who visited Gillette Stadium, Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas and LSU’s Chris Faulk, and why the Patriots might have brought them to town (with help from Scouts Inc. and the Pro Football Weekly draft preview).

Dallas Thomas (6-5, 305) -- Thomas has position flexibility, having made 25 starts at left tackle before moving to left guard in 2012 and starting 12 games. He has NFL-type size, with ESPN’s Scouts Inc. noting he is “a bit lean but continues to add bulk to (his) frame.” There is plenty of tape to watch, as he has played in 41 consecutive games, including 37 straight starts. Long arms. Big hands. Plays light on his feet and at a high level of competition. He is among the highly rated players at the position and could be a consideration with one of the Patriots’ initial picks in the draft. With starting guards Logan Mankins (31) and Dan Connolly (30) the two oldest players on the line, adding solid youth and depth makes sense at some point in the draft. Thomas’ history at tackle, similar to Mankins coming out of Fresno State, only adds to his value and highlights his athleticism.

Chris Faulk (6-5, 331) -- Faulk is more of a developmental prospect and his visit was likely tied to medical questions. He enters the draft after his junior season, even though he played just one game in 2012 before sustaining a season-ending right knee injury. Faulk had surgery to repair his MCL and ACL and only took part in the bench press at the combine. He has NFL-type size to work with, and analysts note he is coachable but also plays with a mean streak. Faulk played left tackle at LSU, but some project him to the right side in the NFL, and he might be the type of prospect who is eyed with 2014 in mind, more so than 2013. Unlike Thomas, he isn’t a projected high draft choice, but he has some traits, starting with his size, that figure to intrigue teams.

EXTRA POINT: For those with an interest in this part of the process, Field Yates’ “scout’s notebook” series in 2012 is a good refresher. Here is Yates' view on what scouts look for at the guard position, as well as what scouts look for at the tackle spot.