FOXBORO -- Two years of retirement didn't do anything to impact Dante Scarnecchia's candor.
When meeting with reporters on Monday at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots offensive line coach's first such meeting since he called it a career after the 2013 season, Scarnecchia was as honest as ever.
One of the topics he addressed was where exactly Patriots third-round draft pick Joe Thuney, a versatile offensive lineman from North Carolina State, would fit as a pro.
As opposed to dancing around the question, insisting that he'd have to work with the player before giving his opinion, Scarnecchia got right down to it.
"Hey, look," he said, "we drafted him to play inside, and also knowing that in a pinch he could help us outside. He's going to be an inside player unless disaster hits and then he's going to be an outside player. We've done it with others. He's just going to be another in the line."
After he was drafted, Thuney said himself that he doesn't have the length typically required to play tackle at the NFL level. He understands that at 6-foot-5, 304 pounds, his 32-inch arm length could be an issue if asked to play on the outside.
While Scarnecchia sees Thuney as a guard or center, he pointed out that length isn't the be-all end-all for a potential tackle.
"I think to a degree, obviously, length is important," Scarnecchia said. "But really when you think about it, his arms are 32 [inches] and a little bit. Matt Light's arms were 33 [inches]. If your arms, every time you pass block, if your arms are [inside], what difference does it make how long your arms are? If your arms are [extended], that's a difference.
"If you play the game like a tyrannosaurus rex, you're not going to have a whole lot of success in pass protection. But if you're something different than that, if you use what you've got, then you have a chance. Logan Mankins played tackle for us. Started in two games at tackle. I don't know what his length is, but I know he knows how to use his hands. I think that's the whole discussion on all that.
"Everybody says well, 'This guy's got 36 inch arms!' Yeah but if he doesn't use them what difference does it make. I think that's really important."
Thuney may not have the prototypical length to play as a full-time tackle, but Scarnecchia and the Patriots liked enough about his other physical characteristics and his intelligence to take him with the No. 78 overall selection over the weekend.
"I think he's really a tremendous athlete," Scarnecchia said. "I think he's a really smart kid. He has a really good playing style. He's a good person. He was gonna be [NC State's] center. Started at guard. Started at left tackle. All in a great conference. He's got good size. Really good measurables. We feel like he's got the traits that we covet for people that come in here."
Thuney will be one of several interior offensive linemen competing for a role this spring and summer.
The Patriots used three guards -- Josh Kline, Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason -- last year in a rotation, all of whom will return. The team also picked up guard Jonathan Cooper when it traded Chandler Jones to the Cardinals. Both Bryan Stork and David Andrews are considered interior offensive linemen, though their primary position is at center. And the Patriots drafted another interior player this year, a sixth-rounder from Illinois, Ted Karras.
It's a crowded group without even factoring in the tackles -- Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming -- that will have a presence in the offensive line meeting room during training camp.
"The more the merrier," Scarnecchia said. "I think that will only help us."