Snapshot: Patriots’ Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski will be looking for a new running mate as Tim Wright was waived Thursday.

Rob Gronkowski will be looking for a new running mate as Tim Wright was waived Thursday.

NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa

Tight End has been the position of conversation in New England ever since the team invested two relatively high picks in the 2010 NFL Draft selecting Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.  Tight End continues to be a big topic of discussion, as the Patriots made headlines this morning when they released youngster Tim Wright.

It may have caught some people as a surprise this morning as the Patriots moved on from 25 year old Tim Wright.  The former Rutgers’ product was acquired in the Logan Mankins trade last season, and caught six touchdowns last year for the Patriots.  The move was first reported by FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo.

Wright had some nice moments during his tenure with the Patriots, most notably in Week 12 vs Detroit when Wright caught five passes resulting in two touchdowns.  He was considered a work in progress all season, considering his late arrival to the team in the pre-season.

Personally, I was surprised at first just because cutting a young, talented player before mini-camp even opens up isn’t exactly normal.  Obviously the coaches have seen enough to come to the conclusion that Wright wasn’t going to be a contributor in the crowded tight end depth chart in 2015.

The Logan Mankins/Tim Wright trade will be revisited much this week and will likely be talked down upon.  After all, the only visible immediate piece of the trade (Wright) has already been shipped away less than a year after the trade.

In fact however, Tim Wright was ultimately the third most valuable piece in the trade for the Patriots.  The most valuable, in my opinion, was the $6.25M+ in cap relief that the Patriots received.  The offensive line missed Mankins early on, but overall proved steady as the year went on.  The $6.25M in cap space gave the  necessary cap space to build another Super Bowl Champion.

One could say “But Revis and Browner were already on the team when Mankins was traded!”, and you would be correct.  However,  I would assume moving Mankins was already on the minds of the Patriots when the Revis signing, in particular, was made.

The second most important piece was the 2015 4th round pick, which resulted in Arkansas DE Trey Flowers.  Flowers was one of the best values in the draft in my mind, whom I judged as a second round talent.   He figures to play in the defensive front rotation immediately, and hopefully for the Patriots can someday develop into an every down contributor.

These two pieces – alone – were worth it for the Patriots in the Logan Mankins trade.  Throwing in Tim Wright was just a bonus.

I would have liked to see Wright at least this upcoming year, but it is easy to see why the Patriots moved on from him.

The Patriots inked former Buffalo tight end and Patriots’ kryptonite Scott Chandler, to a two-year $5.3M contract.  Chandler, along with Gronkowski, have received extensive looks on the outside this offseason so far and looks to play a big role in the offense next season.

In an ‘under the radar thanks to deflategate’ move, the team also signed former Redskins’ tight end Fred Davis.  Davis was suspended last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and had a minimal impact in 2014.  However, he has proven to be a playmaker amidst shaky quarterback play in Washington and could prove to be a nice surprise in 2015.

The Patriots looked to bolster their crowded tight end depth chart in the draft as well, selecting Arkansas TE A.J. Derby #202 overall.  Derby, a favorite of the NEPD crew, has a real chance to make the final 53 man roster now with Wright’s departure.  The former college quarterback showed the ability at times to stretch the seam at Arkansas, as well as impressive run after the catch ability for a man his size.   He is certainly a work in progress, but has shown the attributes needed to be a successful tight end in the NFL.

Another former Arkansas Razorback, Jake Bequette, has also found himself in the tight end chatter.  He was a 2012 3rd round selection, and has yet to prove his worth on the defensive line.  Considering the makeover that has taken place this offseason on the defensive front, tight end could be Bequette’s last chance to prove himself in New England.   At 6’5 265 lbs, Bequette moves well for his size and could be an intriguing option if he can complete the transition.  A situation worth following, in my opinion.

Of course, you can’t forget about veteran Michael Hoomanawanui.  ‘The Hooman’ as he has been known in Foxboro has been a productive veteran who knows his role and does his job.  His worth is in the blocking game, but has obvious limitations in the passing game as have been evident ever since his arrival.  Even after the Wright release, I don’t think Hoomanawanui will be on the 53 man roster again this season, but that remains to be seen.

The final name on the depth chart for now is rookie undrafted free agent Jimmay Mundine from Kansas.  Mundine is smaller than the other tight ends on the roster (6’2 240lbs) and isn’t a great blocker.  He may end up playing a variety of roles in camp and is probably competing for a practice squad spot somewhere at best.

Since the unexpected departure of #81 a few years ago, tight end depth has been an issue in New England.  However through Free Agency and the draft itself, New England has revamped their tight end unit and will house both the best tight end in the game (Rob Gronkowski) and one of the deepest tight end units in the game as well in 2015.  All that’s left is to figure out who the exact names will be on the 53 man roster.

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19 Responses to “Snapshot: Patriots’ Tight Ends”

  1. Valuable information you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing this post!!

  2. GM-in-Training says:

    [2nd Attempt at a readable table]
    So, looking beyond the beginning of the season, as the Pats often do, to the team they want to have at the end of the season, so they can unleash possibilities that they’d planted seeds for far in advance…who is the move TE of January 2016? The player can come from the practice squad (which Mundine and Derby have eligibility for…I think Bequette’s used his up).

    The candidates on the roster right now are:
    …………………40-Time…………3-Cone-Time…….Catching….Blocking……….Special Teams
    Hooman……… 4.77 ……………7.67 ……………. ~ …………. + ……………… +
    Devlin………….5.03 ……………7.23 ……………. ~ …………. + ……………… +
    Mundine……….4.67 ……………6.98 ……………. + …………. – ……………… ?
    Bequette………4.82 ……………6.90 ……………. ? ………….. – ……………… ?
    Derby…………..4.69 ……………6.99 …………… + ………….. – ……………….?

    I think the priority on move TE is elusiveness, and yes, I’m a broken record about 3-cone times. Mundine scored 11 TDs in college, by far the most for the above group. Derby is just as mobile as Mundine and 15 pounds heavier and 3 inches taller.

    What do you think? Are the +/~/- accurate above? How would you fill in the”?” ?

    • Jeff says:

      Hooman would be the most valuable 3rd TE on the roster. I think they keep Develin as their fullback, and probably go with one of the kids as the 3rd TE and stash another on the practice squad because they can save a million bucks on the cap if they cut Hooman, and I think they’d rather spend that $ on an extension for some of the young studs. I see Tavon Wilson being cut for the same reason, and maybe even Wendell.

  3. GM-in-Training says:

    So, looking beyond the beginning of the season, as the Pats often do, to the team they want to have at the end of the season, so they can unleash possibilities that they’d planted seeds for far in advance…who is the move TE of January 2016? The player can come from the practice squad (which Mundine and Derby have eligibility for…I think Bequette’s used his up).

    The candidates on the roster right now are:
    40-Time 3-Cone-Time Catching Blocking Special Teams
    Hooman 4.77 7.67 ~ + +
    Devlin 5.03 7.23 ~ + +
    Mundine 4.67 6.98 + – ?
    Bequette 4.82 6.90 ? – ?
    Derby 4.69 6.99 + – ?

    I think the priority on move TE is elusiveness, and yes, I’m a broken record about 3-cone times. Mundine scored 11 TDs in college, by far the most for the above group. Derby is just as mobile as Mundine and 15 pounds heavier and 3 inches taller.

    What do you think? Are the +/~/- accurate above? How would you fill in the”?” ?

  4. Steve says:

    The 3rd tight end will have to be a special team player as well with BB

  5. GM-in-Training says:

    Pats released Fred Davis. Probably a good sign for Hooman.

  6. ashley says:

    I think we have one of the best tight end groups in the league. I always thought it was going to be tough for Wright to make the team with guaranteed spots for Gronk and Chandler and Davis as a good receiving tight end and Hooman as a very good blocking tight end.

    • Ryan says:

      Yeah, Chandler may end up being a better version of Tim Wright who’s a little bit slower but definitely more experienced. His height is amazing. His presence is the main reason I wasn’t too surprised or disappointed when Wright was let go.

  7. Ryan says:

    Going through the draft, I actually like it a lot more than most recent drafts because the back end is so amazing. Still, here’s what I would’ve done:

    1. DT Malcom Brown
    2. DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
    3. OL TJ Clemmings
    4. DE Trey Flowers
    5. OG Tre Jackson
    6. WR Kenny Bell
    7. FS Cody Prewitt
    8. TE AJ Derby
    9. LB Matthew Wells
    10. CB Darryl Roberts
    11. Xavier Dickson

    Overall, I was disappointed with the cornerback situation. I think that Roberts was the best value pick that we could’ve made. I was hoping that PJ Williams, Alex Carter, or D’Joun Smith would be there for our 3rd pick, but sadly they were not. We could’ve reached in the second but since we did not I think Roberts was the best opportunity to pick up a CB at value. Now, however, we have to wait and see how our secondary looks this year after a few key departures.

  8. Daniel R. Martin says:

    Really wish we had kept Wright. I think he is a burgeoning superstar.

    • Steve says:

      “Superstar”??? Are you kidding?

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Well, gee. Let’s see. He did manage to have more receiving touchdowns and more receiving yards during his rookie year than any other undrafted rookie TE in LEAGUE HISTORY. And that was while he was enduring the quarterback carousel in the Tampa Bay Circus. Not to mention he topped the TD number in his first year in the Pats’ system, while playing very few snaps. So no. I most assuredly am not kidding you. Oh, and he played wideout in college. His first year playin the TE position was as as undrafted rookie free agent. He has plenty of room to grow into the position and he is a damn good red zone receiving weapon.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Well, gee. Let’s see. He did manage to have more receiving touchdowns and more receiving yards during his rookie year than any other undrafted rookie TE in league history. And that was while he was enduring the quarterback carousel in the Tampa Bay Circus. Not to mention he topped the TD number in his first year in the Pats’ system, while playing very few snaps. So no. I most assuredly am not kidding you. Oh, and he played wideout in college. His first year playing the TE position was as as undrafted rookie free agent. He has plenty of room to grow into the position and he is a damn good red zone receiving weapon.

  9. GM-in-Training says:

    Actually, Derby is clearly a practice-squad project. Oh, and hey, you’re forgetting about converted DE Jake Bequette…who maybe has been working on switching to TE for a year or more. He’s got a pretty good 3-cone time for a TE (6.90 I think), which is better than most LB…great recipe for a mismatch. I think Davis could stick, but it’s also conceivable he’s just there to show the younger players new tricks in camp, then be waived because he’s more expensive. I really like the idea of having 3 TE sets where each can create mismatches with 195 pound CB and the shorter LB that are being used these days.

    • Ryan says:

      Personally, I never have much faith in converted tight ends. They don’t have the best track records, despite the overwhelming excitement that invariably surrounds them. It takes more than athleticism and physique to pick up a new position that requires multiple new skill sets (pass-blocking, run-blocking, receiving).

    • Steve says:

      How did he forget about Bequette when he mentioned Bequette at length???

      • GM-in-Training says:

        I was replying to Ryan below, about Bequette, but didn’t reply in the right spot.

  10. Ryan says:

    They’ll probably carry three TEs, meaning Gronk and Chandler stay and one of Hooman, Davis and Derby latches on. It’ll be interesting to see what the Patriots want out of that third tight end slot, because a third receiving option like Davis may not be necessary.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      I suspect the Pats will want to carry 4 TE this year. 2 inline and 2 move TE. They’ve got lots of candidates in camp for a reason. The reason is the Jets’ DBs, and every team in the league hoping to go to press-man coverage because it’s a copy-cat league and the last 2 Superbowl winners used press-man coverage.

      As to which ones make it at the end of camp, that depends on health, ability to absorb the system, how good their hands are, cost-vs-similar players, etc. Gronk, Chandler, and Davis seem likely. Hooman seems to have topped out as a non-receiving TE. If anyone else can block as well and has better hands, that could be that for Hooman.

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