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Patriots' outlook at center/guard altered with Joe Thuney addition

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots selected North Carolina State offensive lineman Joe Thuney in the third round of the NFL draft (78th overall), there was media-based uncertainty on his best position fit because he played all five spots in college and most recently aligned at left tackle.

There's no more uncertainty, thanks to blunt, pull-no-punches Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

"We drafted him to play inside, and also knowing in a pinch he could help us outside," Scarnecchia said Monday. "He's going to be an inside player unless disaster hits. We've done it with others. He's just another one in the line."

Thuney's arm length (32-1/4 inches) is one of the primary reasons many teams projected him to the interior, some specifically at center. Teams traditionally prefer longer-armed players at tackle, but Scarnecchia pointed out that hand usage is equally as important because "if you play the game like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, you're not going to have a whole lot of success."

With Thuney now projected to the inside mix, let's break down the team's personnel (* means player projects to both positions):

Center

Bryan Stork*

David Andrews

Thuney*

Guard

Shaq Mason

Josh Kline*

Tre' Jackson

Jonathan Cooper

Ted Karras*

Chris Barker

The Patriots' need on the interior wasn't viewed as pressing entering the draft (tackle was greater), as Jackson and Mason were fourth-round picks in 2015, while Stork was picked in the fourth round in 2014 and Andrews played well as an undrafted player last year. Furthermore, the club acquired Cooper (2013 first-round pick) in the Chandler Jones trade with Arizona and had signed Kline to a two-year extension during the 2015 season.

Not everyone will stick in 2016, as the position now has high volume.

"The more the merrier," Scarnecchia said. "I think that only will help us."