Patriots Set to Get Huge Addition From Returning O-Lineman

Credit: Getty Yodny Cajuste is set to return to the New England Patriots after missing his entire rookie season in 2019.

The New England Patriots may experience some turnover on the offensive side of the ball heading into the 2020 season. There are a number of variables across their offensive line, and that doesn’t even begin to discuss the uncertainty at quarterback with Tom Brady’s impending free agency dominating the consciousness of sports fans almost as much as the Coronavirus.

Once things are back to normal, the Patriots can begin to appreciate the expected return of Yodny Cajuste.

What Happened to Yodny Cajuste?

The 24-year-old out of Miami who was a standout for West Virginia University missed his entire rookie season with an injured quad. That’s why the Patriots selected him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Per Doug Kyed of NESN, Cajuste is expected to be ready to go for training camp:

Why He Could be a Major Addition

AMES, IA – OCTOBER 13: Defensive end Spencer Benton #58 of the Iowa State Cyclones puts pressure on quarterback Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the end zone as offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste #55 of the West Virginia Mountaineers blocks in the second half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa State Cyclones won 30-14 over the West Virginia Mountaineers. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

Coming out of college, Cajuste was lauded for his versatility, athleticism, frame, and strength. While he could potentially play guard early in his NFL career, he was originally seen as a prospect who could evolve into a starting tackle as a professional. CLNS’ Evan Lazar chimed in with a similar take on Cajuste’s potential value to the Patriots this season.

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His list of accomplishments as a redshirt senior with the Mountaineers is impressive:

  • FWAA All-American (Second Team)
  • Phil Steele All-America (Second Team)
  • Athlon Sports All-America (Fourth Team)
  • Big 12 Conference Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year
  • All-Big 12 Conference First Team (AP, Coaches)
  • All-Big 12 Conference First Team (Phil Steele)
  • A three-year starter at tackle, having played in 31 career games and starting 30
  • Started 11 games at left tackle

If Cajuste can earn a starting spot during the preseason, it would be a pleasant surprise for an offense that might be looking to redefine itself if it loses the leader it has had for the past 20 years.

Cajuste has the looks of a player who could step in to protect Brady, or provide some stability for the person who ushers in a new era.

 

What are the Concerns?

The obvious concern is health.

Coming off an action-less rookie campaign, Cajuste should be 100 percent healthy, but there is always wonder as to whether he will be the kind of player who battles injuries for the duration of his career. Because the injury that cost him his rookie season was a lower-body issue, there is an even greater concern.

Though not as prevalent as the injury concerns, the Pats will have to gauge if Cajuste is adjusting to the NFL after having very little along the lines of reps last season, and with the NFL offseason being impacted by the pandemic, there is another strand of disruption. hopefully, we’ll be talking a lot more about Cajuste’s development and less about quarantines and canceled sporting events in the coming weeks.

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