NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
As I continue to put together my big board, I decided to go with another position that may not be a big focus for the Patriots on draft day. The Patriots have good talent and depth at the position, so I doubt the team will invest a high draft pick on a tight end. On the third day of the draft however, there are some names that intrigue me. Check out my thoughts on the this years crop of tight ends.
Current Roster: Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tim Wright
Position Need: Low
The Patriots are in a good situation because there is not a glaring need at the tight end position. That is a good thing, because this tight end class is weak. Maxx Williams is considered the best prospect this year, after that, there really is no consensus on who the next tight end off the board will be. Most draft guru’s will tell you Clive Walford or Devin Funchess, but people can’t even agree on what position Funchess will play in the NFL. From a Patriots perspective, I don’t have any tight ends on my big board for the first three rounds, but I have some guys that would peak my interest if they fell to the right spot on day 3.
Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State (6’5″, 254 Lbs.) 4th round
Heureman was a guy who went largely unnoticed until recently. In his senior campaign, his main role on the team was as a blocker. His junior tape however, showed that he was an above average athlete with good hands and good route running skills. Heureman will never be a game changing tight end from a receiving perspective, but he has a very well rounded game. He can come in immediately and help an offense both as a run blocker and as a pass catcher. I think because this tight end class is so weak, Heuerman will be drafted on day 2 and it won’t be by the Patriots
James O’Shaughnessy, Illinois State (6’4″, 245 Lbs.) 5th round
“Shag” as his teammates call him, is probably my favorite tight end prospect from a value perspective. I gave him a 5th round grade, but he could go later and maybe even undrafted, so there is potential for a steal here. “Shag” is a very athletic tight end, posting an impressive workout at his pro day (4.68-40, 35″vert., 7.20 3-cone, 4.38 short shuttle.) He has a very good all around game. He is a very good blocker in the run game. “Shag” has soft hands, runs good routes, uses his body well to shield off defenders, and consistently makes contested catches.
Blake Bell, Oklahoma (6’6″, 252 Lbs.) 5th/6th round
Bell is a former quarterback who has one year of experience at the tight end position. In that year, he showed the raw skills to be a threat as a pass catcher in the NFL. He improved from the beginning of the year to the end, so it looks like he takes coaching well and is smart enough to continue to improve. He has great size and plays with great effort. His run blocking got better as the season went along, but still needs lots of work. Everything about his game will need to be developed, but with time he could become a legitimate tight end in the NFL.
Jean Sifrin, UMass (6’5″, 245 Lbs.)-27 year old with good size. Didn’t test well at combine, but looked athletic on tape with good hands.
E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State (6’2″, 258 Lbs.) athletic receiving TE with great hands. Does a nice job of finding holes in the D. Not great size. Best years might be ahead of him
Will Tye, Stoneybrook (6’3″, 250 Lbs.) good size, athleticism, and body control. Dominated lower level competition. A bit stiff in and out of routes, but has soft hands and wide frame to make contested catches.