The 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone and many Mountaineers heard their name called throughout the weekend including offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, who was selected by the New England Patriots with the 101st overall pick in the 3rd round.
A pick prior to Cajuste, went the quarterback he protected for two years with Will Grier going to the Panthers. Many mock drafts linked Grier and the Patriots and had he not been taken with the 100th overall pick, it might have been the Patriots using the pick on Grier instead of Cajuste.
Regardless, it seems like it will benefit both of them as Grier can now sit and learn behind Cam Newton and Cajuste can come in and add depth to the Patriots offensive line and maybe earn a starting spot in the future.
Just a year ago, the Patriots drafted Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn with the 23rd overall pick, so unless they plan to move Cajuste to the right side he will most likely be backing up Wynn. At right tackle, the Patriots have Marcus Cannon who has been a consistent spot starter for them making 54 starts over eight seasons. It appears that they will either move on from Cannon at some point if Cajuste and Wynn are the clear better tackles or they will have him move to a backup role.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is one of the best, if not the best developers in the NFL and getting a first round talent in Cajuste in the third round is an absolute steal for the organization. He has all the makings of being a great tackle and maybe even a top five tacke in the league.
So with all the talent that Cajuste possesses, how did he slip all the way to the third round? Injuries.
Injuries have been a major red flag for NFL teams when it comes to selecting players especially those who have had multiple injuries, such as Yodny. He injured his left knee vs Baylor in 2015 and would miss the rest of the season during his redshirt freshman year. A year later he injured his right knee in the season opener vs Missouri and was forced to sit out the entire season once again. The last two years he has been healthy for the most part, which regained the NFL scouts attention. He had one minor setback when he got banged up in the season finale vs Oklahoma and did not return and would go on to sit out the bowl game for precautionary measures. He did however undergo surgery on March 29th to repair his right quad muscle according to a report by CBS Sports and is expected to be cleared in two months.
If Cajuste can somehow keep far away from the injury bug, do not be surprised if he earns himself a starting spot within his first two years in the league. His 6’5″ 330 pound frame gives him the ability to be a strong pass protector in the league, but will need to build on his run blocking, which he will have to do if he wants a chance to make it big under coach Belichick. He moves fairly well and has good footwork and very strong hands that gives him somewhere to start. You have to keep in mind that Cajuste is still very raw considering he’s really only played two full seasons and some change of college football.
What are your thoughts? Does Cajuste have the makings to be and All-Pro tackle?