Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui and Gavin Escobar.
In Bill Belichick’s never ending quest to rule the football world, his preferred weapon appears to be big fast tight ends running rampant, overwhelming confused linebackers and safeties and forcing cornerbacks to shriek in horror as the beasts turn the corner and bear down on them…
Ah, delusions. Where have you been all of these years?
In my warped brain, I see Bill Belichick running an up tempo power package featuring three tight ends, a running back and one wide receiver, commonly referred to as a “13 Personnel” package, but with a twist as the tight ends are so athletic and fast that the team could line up in anything from a short yardage power set to a pro set to a five-wide spread formation, being able to use nothing but tight ends.
It seems that Belichick wanted to implement this last season, but the plan fell apart when the cornerstone for his plan, Aaron Hernandez, was hurt in game two and missed half of the season, and then again when Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm against the Colts and was essentially lost for the remainer of the season.
No? How else do you explain the fact that Belichick kept four tight ends on the roster along with four backs and only three legit wide receivers? How else do you explain keeping franchised receiver Wes Welker on the sidelines until Hernandez was hurt, forcing him to switch gears on the fly?
And how do you explain the fact that he stocked up on tight ends on the IR with Shaincoe (who was ultimately released shortly after coming off the list) and snagging the injured Jake Ballard off waivers as an option for the 2013 season?
And if you need any more persuasion, keep in mind that the team locked up both Gronkowski and Hernandez to long-term deals last season – both deals set to expire just about the time that Brady’s career should be coming to an end.
Coincidence? Perhaps all of them separately, but together they make a compelling argument for a juggernaut that the league has never seen before.
Had the team a player to provide Hernandez like depth in the event of injury, the Patriots’ offense would have overrun every defense that they faced last year, leaving a trail of destruction and frustration…
…but as it turns out, the Patriots were the ones that suffered the frustration and ultimate destruction as physical defenses such as Super Bowl participants San Francisco and Baltimore were able to control large chunks of their games against the Patriots – and that doesn’t sit well with Belichick or the fans.
And that’s where Escobar comes in. At 6′ 5″ and 255 pounds, the Junior from San Diego State has the skill set to not only back up Hernandez, but also to carve out a niche for himself in his own right.
With 42 receptions for 543 yards and six touchdowns last year, he projects as a seam stretching mismatch for linebackers out of the slot, where he had the majority of his success in the Aztec’s offense – where his skill set made him the featured weapon.
And if those Junior numbers piqued your interest, then his sophomore numbers will blow your mind: 51 balls for nearly 800 yards and seven touchdowns. Escobar looks the part of a tall wide receiver and looks very natural going up for the ball and running after the catch – has the suddenness to gain separation from linebackers and the size to block out and leaping ability to elevate above defensive backs….
…and with the ball in his hands, he is an imaginative runner with rare lateral quickness and enough speed to pull away from defenders for long gainers.
In the end, in my mind Escobar would be a prime candidate for a day two selection for the Patriots, particularly if Bill Belichick trades down to acquire more second day draft picks.