NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The most talented position on the Patriots roster outside of quarterback is at Tight End.
As if having two young studs wasn’t enough last season, the Patriots were active in free agency adding even more depth and talent to the position. Here we are just days before the start of training camp and there are still reports that the team is looking at acquiring more tight end depth in Visanthe Shiancoe.
How will all this talent fit onto the roster and what roles will they fill?
Continue reading as we preview the Patriots Tight End position prior to training camp.
Current Roster (5): Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, Tyler Urban. Also, undrafted free agent Brad Herman is on the roster, but is officially on Injured Reserve after rupturing his Achilles tendon at mini camp.
What To Watch For: What role will Aaron Hernandez be playing in Josh McDaniels offense? Is Rob Gronkowski’s ankle fully healed? What can Daniel Fells add to the offense? Will the Patriots add another tight end?
Who Makes The Final 53: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Daniel Fells make the 53 man roster, while Jake Ballard goes on I.R with an eye towards 2013.
Bubble Watch: None – Unless the Patriots end up signing Visanthe Shiancoe who was in Foxboro for a try out this week.
Not much explanation is needed here. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are two of the best young players in the league and an integral part of the passing offense. Bill Belichick has been after Daniel Fells for a number of years now and almost signed him to an offer sheet in 2010, before he elected to return to the Rams. Carrying a third TE like Fells will take some of the blocking burden off of Hernandez and free him up to possibly play more of a slot WR role.
Jake Ballard is talented player and the Patriots were wise to swoop in and steal him from the Giants off waivers. Ballard won’t be healthy this year due to a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl. The Patriots will be able to stash Ballard on I.R and see how they can integrate him into the offense in 2013, at a very reasonable price tag.
The only possible position battle that will arise in camp is if the Patriots sign another veteran TE like Shiancoe who could possibly win the #3 TE job from Daniel Fells. Tyler Urban is an UDFA who is limited athletically and ability wise, with little to no chance to make the roster. Barring injuries the strongest position on the Patriots roster in 2011 got stronger going into 2012.