Building The Patriots Draft Board: Tight End

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

We come to the final offensive skill position of the series, the Tight Ends. It has been several years since there has been this much talent at the position and teams will be able to get guys who can contribute well beyond the first round. After the Patriots aquired Dwayne Allen, it has been all quiet on the Tight End front. In the past however, we have seen the Patriots use multiple picks on the position, and with this much talent, it may be hard to pass up on getting a young player to groom for the future.

Position: Tight End

Priority: Medium

Current Roster:

Rob Gronkowski (age 27, signed through 2019)

Dwayne Allen (age 27, signed through 2019)

Matt Lengel (age 26, signed through 2017)

Rob Housler (age 29, signed through 2017)

Michael Williams (age 26, signed through 2017)

Position Overview:

There are a lot of names on the roster right now, but in reality, only Gronk and Allen have roster spots locked up. The rest of the guys are on the final year of their contract and could easily be replaced by a rookie draft pick. Gronk is the best Tight End in the league, and maybe ever, but the reality is is that he struggles to stay healthy. Allen has his injury concerns as well, so adding a young player that is more dynamic than the other three Tight Ends currently on the roster seems like a realistic move, and a smart one.

Prospects With Draftable Grades:

Adam Shaheen, Ashland (6’7″, 278 Lbs.): I wrote up Shaheen earlier http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2017/02/scouting-report-adam-shaheen-te.html, so I won’t bore you with too many more details, but this guy is really impressive. For a guy his size to move as smoothly is something else. You just do not see guys his size with his athleticism on the offensive side of the ball. He needs work as a route runner and more seasoning as a blocker, but his upside is tremendous. If he can develop like I think he should, he has a chance to be one of the dominant Tight Ends in the league. Grade: 2nd/3rd round

Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech (6’6″, 257 Lbs.): Hodges has an impressive combination of size, athleticism, and speed for the position. Basically, he is a Wide Receiver in a Tight Ends body. He is a smooth runner, not a rumbler like you might expect at his size. He is physical with defenders and will box them out to create a large target for his QB. Hodges uses his height,strength, and large hands well to win contested throws. He plays with good body control, timing his jumps well to high point the ball. He can take a hit and deliver one as well. His route running needs work and while he has the size, he is not a refined blocker at all. Like I said earlier, he moves and plays much more like a Receiver than a Tight End. He has the potential to be a real headache for Defensive Coordinators. Grade: 3rd round

Jake Butt, Michigan (6’5″, 246 Lbs.): Butt is what you think of when you are thinking about a classic Tight End. He is not the freak athlete like the guys that will be drafted before him, but he makes up for it in other ways. He is a great route runner with good footwork. He is quick off the snap and attacks defenders. He has developed the use of subtle movements to get defenders off balance and create separation. He knows how to use his frame to create an inviting target for his QB. He is a reliable pass catcher that is fluid after the catch. Butt is a physical player with the ball in his hand and requires multiple defenders to bring him down. He is a willing blocker, but could use some refinement in his technique. Butt is coming off a major injury and has been forgotten in this talented class. He could be a steal if he slips down the draft board. Grade: 3rd round

Jordan Leggett, Clemson (6’5″, 258 Lbs.): Leggett is yet another big bodied guy with great athleticism. He is smooth route runner that shows good burst to get on top of defenders and create separation. He has long arms and big hands, making him a big target with a large catch radius. He has soft hands and attacks the ball, rarely allowing the ball into his pads. He is productive with the ball in his hand, forcing defenders to sell their body to bring him down. He has good vision and enough wiggle to be a threat after the catch. Leggett has decent technique as a blocker, but needs to get bigger in his lower half to be more effective. Effort is not always there when he is asked to block, which is a concern. Leggett is another one of these Tight Ends that is more of a pass catcher than a true inline Tight End. Grade: 3rd round

George Kittle, Iowa (6’3″, 247 Lbs.): Kittle showed up on the scene after his performance at the NFL Combine. His speed shows up on tape as well. He is a smooth mover with refined footwork in and out of his cuts. Kittle is as competitive as they come, especially as a blocker. He latches on and drives his opponents out of the play or into the ground. Does not have ideal size for the position and looks to be maxed out. You have to wonder why Kittle was not more productive given his athletic abilities. Kittle is raw from a route running standpoint and was only asked to run a very simplified tree. He struggles to create separation because he just does not know how to set up defenders. He will get drafted because of his blocking and a team will hope he can develop as a pass catching option. Grade: 5th round

Eric Saubert, Drake (6’4″, 253 Lbs.): A guy from my neck of the woods, he is probably unknown to the casual draft fan. He is a fluid athlete that is more Wide Receiver than Tight End at this point. He has insanely long arms and huge hands, making him a big target. He is a threat after the catch with his speed and good change of direction skills. Saubert does not have to gear down to get in and out of his breaks. He tracks the ball well, can high point the ball and made some really tough catches look easy. Saubert has some of the best highlight catches of any of the Tight Ends in this class. He is coming from a much lower level of competition and will have a big adjustment to make. He was not a great blocker even at the lower level of competition and will need a lot of work to improve in that area. He will have the occasional mental drop, trying to run before securing the catch. Grade: 5th/6th round

Interesting UDFA Prospects:

Pharaoh Brown, Oregon (6’5″, 255 Lbs.) At one point, was probably a Day 2 pick before a major knee injury. Can he get back to that guy?

Billy Brown, Shepherd (6’3″, 255 Lbs.)

Phazahn Odom, Fordham (6’7″, 251 Lbs.)

 

Final Thoughts: Another talented group that required some tough decisions. Gerald Everett(3rd/4th round), Cole Hikutini(4th round), and Jeremy Sprinkle(4th/5th) were names I seriously considered putting in. I would be surprised if the Patriots didn’t grab a Tight End because this is just too talented of a group to not find value. The team does have other, more pressing needs, but I could see the team shocking its fanbase and taking a Tight End earlier rather than later.

 

 

 

 

25 Responses to “Building The Patriots Draft Board: Tight End”

    • steve earle says:

      Makes me think that it may not be a forgone conclusion that BB and Butler can not come to terms next winter, who knows.

  1. Stephen J says:

    Per Aaron Wilson

    Mississippi State wide receiver Fred Ross has visits with Panthers and Patriots, according to a source

    LSU defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has workouts for Vikings, Eagles, Patriots; Packers among those displaying interest

    Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman has workouts for Steelers, Bills, Chiefs, Patriots, according to a source. Texans were at his Pro Day

    • Stephen J says:

      Also this from Aaron Wilson

      Villanova tackle Brad Seaton has worked out privately for Bills, Patriots, Texans; did Jets, Giants local workouts, Eagles next week

      Now does private work outs have a greater significance than just visits. Meaning when the Patriots work someone out privately have they selected them more than those they just interviewed or just had visits with?

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    The way our roster is currently constructed Bucky Hodges would be the match up nightmare and red zone threat, his length and catch radius would make him an extremely versatile weapon on the inside down the seam and on the outside, also in the slot.

    • Stephen J says:

      His measurements and times seem to dictate that but his film says otherwise here is a nice breakdown of that https://www.ndtscouting.com/notes/inspecting-conflicting-opinions-2017-nfl-draft/3/ specifically certain things to note 1 he glides through routes as compared to accelerating 2 he looks at the QB for most of the route, not selling the shallow route 3 film shows too many instances where a DB will get a good jam on him and disrupt his route 4 In regards to blocking and mentality he doesn’t have the desire to give extra effort to finish the block. Then there is this 5 His ability to high point the catch is way more advanced than his ability to catch the deep ball over the shoulder.

      With that being said points 2 and 3 can be worked on and corrected but points 1 and 4 give me some doubts. In regards to point 5 yes he can high point the ball excellently that’s when his route isn’t disrupted by press coverage but more importantly I think of how many times has Brady thrown that over the shoulder pass to Gronk down in the Red Zone. That seems like it is one of those things that could be worked on/developed but that brings me back to his mentality/desire in giving that extra effort. So on one hand I get excited about the Athletic Physical scores but that doesn’t seem to correspond with the tape and without more backround/interview info its hard to say weather or not he can consistently do what you so eloquently laid out.

      • Stephen J says:

        Then there are these tweets from his pro day

        Text from Scout at VT Pro Day “Bucky Hodges is just ok today. Raw Athlete but not a natural pass catcher, doesn’t High point it”

        he isn’t really a hands catcher either. Coming from a tech fan. Dropped lots of passes trying to body catcher it.

        If you watch his tape – he has poor balance. Leaves his feet and falls to ground on ~80% of his catches

        VT alum here. Too much hype with Bucky. Very much a project

        • Stephen J says:

          Yet he racked up 133 catches for 1,747 yards (13.1 avg.) and 20 scores across 39 career games.

  3. Dan Sullivan says:

    Sorry for 2 I THOUGHT IT DID NOT GO THRU.

  4. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft 15.0

    3 Zach Banner G USC
    3 Alex Anzalone OLB Florida
    4 Cole Hikutini TE Louisville
    5 Isaac Rochell DT/DE Notre Dame
    5 Orian Stewart S Bayloe
    6 De’Veon Smith RB Michigan
    7 Justin Senior OT Mississippi St.

    • Stephen J says:

      I love Alex Anzalone smarts and play. I dislike that his healthiest year was last year and he only played 8 out of 13 games. The dude just can’t seem to stay healthy to put those smarts and playing ability to use. That being said even missing 5 games he was 3rd on the team in tackles with 53 that’s nearly 7 per game. He also had 3 sacks which is nearly 0.5 per game. If only he could stay healthy.

  5. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft 15.0

    3 Zach Banner G USC
    3 Alex Anzalone OLB Florida
    4 Isaac Rochell DT/DE Notre Dame
    5 Orian Stewart S Baylor
    5 Cole Hikutini TE Louisville
    6 Justin Senior OT Mississippi St.
    7 De’Veon Smith RB Michigan

  6. Stephen J says:

    One WR which is not receiving much attention that Mike pointed out to us is Krishwan Hogan.

    He is actually interesting. Let me tell you why. 1st lets start with his measurable’s and who he is relatively similar too.

    Krishawn Hogan….Chad Hansen(Cal)…..Jerome Lane (Akron)….Alshon Jeffrey…Josh Gordon
    6’3″…………………6’2″……………………6’2″……………………..6’2 7/8″………..6’3″
    222 lbs…………….202 lbs………………..226 lbs…………………216 lbs…………223 lbs
    Arm L 32 1/8……..32 1/8…………………31 1/2………………….33……………….33 1/4
    Hand S 9 7/8……..10 1/8…………………9 3/4……………………10 1/4………….10″
    40….4.56………….4.53…………………..4.60……………………..4.48……………4.52
    Vert…36 1/2″……..35″……………………35……………………….36 1/2………….36″
    Broad…124″……….119″………………….125″……………………..122″…………….121″
    3 Cone..6.74……….6.74………………….6.87……………………..6.71…………….DNP
    20 Shuttle.4.21……4.13………………….4.12………………………4.17…………….N/A
    Bench……13………11…………………….16…………………………N/A…………….13

    That is 5 individuals who have nearly the same measurements and times from a physical athletic point of view. If your into SPARQ scores he ranks 7th this year out of all receivers who completed the tests this year seen here https://3sigmaathlete.com/rankings/wr/
    Now SPARQ scores aren’t everything overall he tested in the middle of the pack out of the 58 receivers there at the combine.

    Now what about his college production.
    He played 3 years at Marian(Indianapolis) He transferred there at the end of his Freshman year. While at Marian he had 3 straights years over 1100 yards receiving(1132,1824,1435) total of 4391 yards averaging 16.7 yards per reception with 42(11,16,15) receiving TD’s. He also ran for 25 TD’s mainly short yardage(62 Att 170 yards) plus threw for 1 TD for a total of 68 TD’s

    Daniel Jeremiah said this about him during the combine I really like Marian University WR Krishawn Hogan. Excellent size and natural hands. Ran mid 4.5s and had strong field workout.

    Here is a TV interview on Krishawn listen to what his coach has to say https://twitter.com/DaveFurst/status/834219916794396672 Approx 2:30 seconds

    While he was a man among boys in college he will need to work on a few things. He will need to attack the ball instead of allowing it to come to him. He will need to make sharper cuts. He will also need to get stronger in the upper body to be able to handle jams on the next level better. While he may need to develop at the next level those times and measurements along with what his coach said about him(being a hard worker) and his attitude shows me he has all the tools in place to make that transition to the Pro’s.

  7. Stephen J says:

    Joe Mathis held a private work out today. Here is a pic https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9Ey0urUIAASPXb.jpg:large

    Haven’t heard or seen anything as far as results.

  8. Stephen J says:

    One TE that’s not getting mentioned at all is Michigan St Josiah Price.

    He is 6’4″ 248. He had 104 catches for 1,238 yards (11.9 avg.) and 21 touchdowns in 51 career games, while making 25 starts . . . finished his career ranked first in school history among tight ends with 21 career TD receptions, which also ranks fourth among all players in school history . . . also finished his career ranked third among Spartan tight ends in catches (104) and receiving yards (1,238).

    Price in an interview said I could move in the backfield, I could move in the slot, I can be in line, I can be in a wing and I can pretty much do any blocking schemes – all the power, pass protection. We ran a pretty similar NFL offense here at MSU.

    Now Jeff Risdon had this to say about Josiah Price gets lost in the deep and diverse TE class, but he’s got an intriguing skill set. He’s one of the best at chipping the rusher and releasing into routes, and his agility and blocking in space improved as a senior.

    I can see why he may get lost in this class but he is worthy of being mentioned.

    Price has individual workouts set up but declined to name the teams. The only teams that I’ve seen shown interest is Detriot, San Fran, Indy, and 1 other team.

    • Stephen J says:

      The other team was Chicago

    • Stephen J says:

      I came across this a scouting report by ndtscouting.com on the Michigan vs Michigan St game

      Josiah Price, TE, Senior #82 (6’4” 248 lbs)

      I liked when I saw him not give up on backside blocks and take the opportunity to bully DBs. Even when he was beat by Peppers at the end of the backside block, he raced over and delivered a final blow that sent Peppers flying. When he was used as a backside offensive tackle in an unbalanced formation, he used inside hand placement to hold up the DE, Wormley and not give up any ground. He made a critical block on the goal line when he moved up to the safety and blocked him with only 1 arm to gain outside leverage and then continued to run his feet and the block into the end zone to allow the RB to score. He caught the ball with his hands on multiple receptions. After one catch, he showed more fight when he broke the attempted foot tackle and continued to convert the 1st down. To catch another pass, he went down low, got his hands underneath the short pass, and scooped the pass up to bring in the catch. Stock: up; Draft’s bargain round: NA need more film

  9. GM-In-Training says:

    If that Pats double dipped at TE, it would be with the expectation of holding and trading a TE in September for a player or picks.

  10. td says:

    This offense is designed for Brady to chuck the ball in 2+ seconds and receivers getting separation quickly and adding more TE’s does not do that. Adding Cooks & Mitchell does.

  11. Jeff says:

    Would it even be surprising to see them grab 2 tight ends and plan to carry 4 on the roster? This TE class looks so much deeper than the past few years where it seems that 4th and 5th round guys have the athleticism of guys that have gone in the first couple of rounds the past few years. I would love to see them grab a couple of guys in this class.

    • steve earle says:

      Actually I would be surprised Jeff. Given the talent levels at other position of greater needs I could see one TE pickup but not two. DE and LB are areas where I would not be surprised to see Bill double dip. Maybe even DB.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      It would take a special circumstance to take two. If someone they had a very high grade dropped, then maybe, but this team has limited picks and other needs. Maybe a second one that went undrafted could be brought in.

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