As part of this slow time on the NFL calendar, when we'll be taking a break to recharge for the 2014 season, we introduce the pre-produced "checking the locks" series in which we analyze the players on the Patriots' roster who are "locks" to stick. It's offensive linemen on Thursday.
Sure-fire locks: LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, RT Sebastian Vollmer, OT/G Marcus Cannon, C Bryan Stork, RG Jon Halapio, RT Cameron Fleming
Near lock: G Josh Kline
Trying to get in the door: C Ryan Wendell, C/G Dan Connolly, C/G Braxston Cave, G Chris Barker, OT Jordan Devey, OT Chris Martin
ANALYSIS: When it comes to competitions in training camp, offensive line is near the top of the list. Unlike last year, when the Patriots were combing the waiver wire in late August in hopes of finding some developmental blockers with upside, they are well-stocked to the point that incumbent starters Wendell and Connolly could feel pressure to keep top roles. It will all come down to how quickly draft picks such as Stork (fourth round, 105th overall) and Halapio (sixth round, 179th overall) develop and injuries, as well as how many offensive linemen the team ultimately decides to keep (anywhere between eight and 10). Wendell and Connolly have played plenty of good football for the Patriots, and are top-notch locker-room guys, so they warrant respect and should not be written off. But when a team drafts three offensive linemen, it's quite possible something will have to give somewhere along the line if everyone remains healthy.