Insider Analysis courtesy of Charlie Bernstein, editor-in-chief of JagNation Magazine and Jagnation.com. PatriotsInsider.com's take was written by Jon Scott, Patriots Insider lead analyst.
Name: Dan Connolly Pos: OC/OG
Draft Status: UDFA-2005 Date acquired: 9/10/2007
Who is He?
Charlie Bernstein: Dan Connolly is a small school center/guard who made the Jaguars team in 2005 as an undrafted free agent rookie. Connolly played in four games that year, entirely on special teams. In 2006, he broke his wrist/arm in training camp, and ended up on the IR.
Why was he released?
CB: Connolly was released mainly due to the drafting of Uche Nwaneri (fifth-round), who also plays center/guard. Nwaneri simply outplayed Connolly during the preseason and won the job.
CB: Connolly is very strong, possibly one of the strongest guys on the Jaguars team when he played here. He's a road-grater, mauler type with a mean streak. His weaknesses include poor balance and a lack of experience.
How can he help?
CB: Connolly will simply be a depth guy for New England, who can play some special teams. I can't see him making any kind of impact anytime soon.
PI's Take: How He Fits
Connolly is purely in New England for developmental purposes. The Patriots have tried to rebuild their offensive line through late round picks, but haven't had a lot of success recently. Dan Stevenson was a sixth round pick last year and he was released. Mike Elgin -- a sixth round pick this year -- was one player the Patriots thought they could mold into a future reserve lineman or possible starter. When Elgin proved to be a bit too raw, the team opted to pick up one of the linemen the they had tracked previously in Connolly. Drafting Elgin and fellow draft picks Corey Hilliard and Clint Oldenburg in 2007, was a sign the Patriots needed to groom some younger offensive linemen who can eventually fill a need. The team had Sean Bubin and Brian Barthelmes on the practice squad last year but they never panned out. Russ Hochstein is dealing with injury issues, Gene Mruczkowski never developed in the starter the team hoped for. Now it's Connolly's turn to show if he has what it takes to be a regular reserve, much like Hochstein. The Patriots continue to try to find a diamond in the rough, but it's taking a lot of digging through rocks to find someone useful -- certainly no diamonds.
|Guard Dan Connolly #61 of the Jacksonville Jaguars sets to block for quarterback David Garrard #9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on August 18, 2007 (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)|
Pre-Draft scouting report by TFY Draft Preview (March 2005)
Name: Dan Connolly School: SE Missouri State Year: 5Sr
Ht: 6-3.5 Wt: 311 40: 5.27 Pos: OL
Bio: Four-year starter that saw action at both left and right tackle. Awarded All-Conference honors every season since his freshman campaign.
Positives: Strong, patient lineman with a terrific feel for the position. Heady blocker who immediately picks up defensive schemes, works well with linemates and stays with assignments. Effectively walls defenders from the action and anchors in pass protection. Jolts defenders with his hands and controls them once engaged at the point of attack.
Negatives: Lacks footwork sliding out on the edge, has difficulty adjusting and struggles in space.
Analysis: A power blocker best built for the guard position, Connolly’s experience on both sides of the line coupled with his playing strength give him a good degree of upside. Offers potential at several positions on the offensive line and at the very least an inexpensive backup who could hang around in the NFL for a long time
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.