Two years ago you could say the New England Patriots had the best tight end combo in football with the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez but now at times they look very sloppy at the position. A good tight end is so key in the NFL and it doesn’t just hurt the pass game but the run game as well. A good blocking tight end can open up so many big gaps for the running backs.
A reason they look sloppy is because of Gronk’s inability to stay on the field and no real back-up behind him. The Patriots did address the tight end position in the off season by adding rookies, Asa Watson and Justin Jones. Of course Gronk’s health will be a major concern this year but lets dive into the position in depth and see who Gronk at the position with him.
When this man is on the field he is an absolute beast. But getting him on the field and staying on the field is a huge concern for the Patriots. Gronk has battled hip, forearm, back, hamstring, knee and concussion injuries throughout his five-year career with the Patriots. Gronk’s training from his torn ACL suffered last season via a T.J. Ward vicious hit.
Gronk, when healthy, is one of the best players not just tight ends in the NFL. In 2011, while playing in 16 games, Gronk railed in 90 catches for 1,327 yards and recorded 17 touchdowns in the process. Of coarse that was playing with Hernandez, but those are some of the best numbers put up by a tight end ever. The run game also increases when Gronk plays due to his ability to open up huge gaps with his blocking.
My 2014 Rob Gronkowski Projection:
75(up 36) receptions, 1,200(up 608) yards, 16(up .8) average yards per reception and 15(up 11) touchdowns
Note: He will also be a Pro-Bowler
The Hoo-man as he is referred to had a pretty good year filling in for Gronk last season. Although he is not the best second tight end in the league, he is still a serviceable veteran to plug into the game if Gronk needs a breather. Hoo-man did have 12 catches on 19 targets last season, which is decent numbers for a man who didn’t except to see much playing time at all.
My 2014 Michael Hoomanawanui Projection:
25(up 13) receptions, 175(up 39) yards and 0(down 1) touchdowns
3) Justin Jones
In all belief, I think Justin Jones will win the roster spot at the Patriots third tight end for the upcoming season. Jones is a big kid at 6’8” and 277 pounds and is very tough to move.
Jones was not drafted but the Patriots swooped him up shortly after the draft had occurred and he feels like he fits with this team.
“The Patriots have been, to my knowledge, keeping up with me throughout most of my career in college,” he said. “They have always shown interest in me, and been interested in how my career went. They were constantly in contact with me and my agent throughout the draft. I didn’t do any individual workouts, but like I said, it wasn’t kinda out of nowhere.”
My 2014 Justin Jones Projection:
15 receptions, 125 yards, 2 touchdowns
Tight ends on current roster who need to fight for their spot:
Possible tight end additions before season starts:
— TeamBoston (@TeamBoston) June 3, 2014
Patriots TE Depth Chart Grade and Reason: B+
One of the reasons I give them a B+ at this position is because besides having one of the best players in the league at the position they really have no one else. IF Gronk can stay healthy, expect a monster year but if not expect the Patriots to shy away from the tight end position thus year. I think adding a veteran like Keller or Finley, who have experience in the NFL and can play well, would be a huge addition and bump the grade up to an A. But until then the tight ends remain a big question mark heading into the season.