In Depth Look At Tight End: The Past, Present, and Future

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

While training camp is only a few days old, the Patriots have had their fair share of headlines already. The team has had two players retire within days of each other and while the Hawkins announcement is not a big deal, the announcement by Rob Ninkovich certainly is. Today however, we focuson the final offensive skill position, the Tight Ends. When doing research for this article, this is a position that Belichick puts a lot of focus into and has had mixed results throughout the years.

The Past:

While my data only goes back to 2007 right now (i hope to go back to Belichick’s first year as Patriots coach when time allows), if we were to look back to 2000, the Patriots have drafted 11 Tight Ends in that time, including 7 from 2000 to 2006. It was obvious then that BB and the Patriots were searching for one or more players at the position to run the offense the way they wanted. In 2010, the team drafted arguably the best Tight End to ever play the game and the need to keep throwing draft picks at the position greatly diminished. As we all know, the Patriots have decided in recent years to go the Free Agent route to acquire their Tight Ends. These veteran acquisitions provide more injury insurance to Gronk than a rookie can provide. This offense relies heavily on the mismatch the Tight End position can provide and the Patriots do not want to lose that advantage if Gronk gets hurt. If the Patriots do decide to use a draft pick on a player at this position, here are the measureables we should be looking for:

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 258 Lbs

40 yard dash: 4.75 sec

Vertical: 29″

Bench: 21 reps

Broad Jump: 9’0″

3cone: 7.13 sec

Shuttle: 4.28 sec.

From a contextual standpoint, nothing really stands out when comparing the players the Patriots have drafted compared to the rest of the field. The Patriots once again tend to draft players that perform better than average in the Shuttle and 3cone, but that is about it.

The Present:

Here is the current roster at Tight End:

Rob Gronkowski

Dwayne Allen

James O’Shaughnessy

Matt Lengel

Jacob Hollister

Obviously the group revolves around Gronk. If he can stay healthy, which has become a big if in recent years, the position will put up huge numbers once again in this offense. Allen is a talented player with an injury history of his own, but he to could put up his best NFL stats of his career if he can stay healthy. I really liked O’Shaughnessy coming out of college and would like to see if he can be more than the special teams player he was in KC. Lengel was on the team all last year, but I think he is limited athletically and may have a tough time making this team. Hollister is the wildcard. While he went undrafted, he is talented and with the money they gave him after the draft, the team clearly wanted him. I like him as a developmental prospect who most likely finds a spot on the practice squad if he clears through waivers.

The Future:

Here are the Senior prospects at Tight End I think are worth looking at for the 2018 NFL Draft:

Troy Fumagali, Wisconsin

Adam Breneman, UMass

Ethan Wolfe, Tennessee

Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

Mike Gesicki, Penn State

Marcus Baugh, Ohio State

DeAndre Goolsby, Florida

Cam Serigne, Wake Forest

Jeb Blazevich, Georgia

Durham Smythe, Notre Dame

Jake Roh, Boise State

Ryan Yurachek, Marshall






15 Responses to “In Depth Look At Tight End: The Past, Present, and Future”

  1. EdgeX says:

    DT/DE Adam Butler keeps sticking out – if he performs in preseason games might make the roster. I’m hearing the old Dion Lewis is back. Roster cuts are going to be VERY hard this year.

    I’d suggest checking Patscap and Jeffphowe on twitter for fantastic updates on training camp. (Note you don’t need to use twitter to view their twitter pages – just search google with the names I mentioned above).

  2. steve earle says:

    Just to go off topic a little. While I was at a couple practices last week one of the “under the radar” guys who caught my eye was D J Killings a DB. I have seen his name now a few times here and there and so wonder how the guys on this site perceive him? I love rooting for under dogs so I’ve decided he’s my pick to stick. What do you guys think?

    • GM-In-Training says:

      DJ Killing’s rep is that he’s very smart. Jordan Richards coming out of Stanford had that reputation too, but it hasn’t yet translated in the pros. Kenny Moore is showing a lot more pass breakups and interceptions so far in camp, amongst the rookies.

      I’m really hoping Jason Thompson and David Jones come up to speed mentally, because they have amazing tools physically. Jones is nursing injuries and Thompson changed positions in college and has a steep learning curve.

      Given how many of the Pat’s quality UDFA DB got picked up by other teams last season, we’d be lucky to get half the one’s that don’t make the 53 on our PS.

      We’ll see.

      • steve earle says:

        Good insights GM Bill does have a habit of bringing in a lot of undrafted talent, no exception this year. I like Killings from the limited time I watched good hustle, good instincts. Sounds like Moore is doing pretty well too. I’ll put him on my watch and pick list with DJ. Thanks for the heads up.
        This is going to be a great camp to watch. GO PAT’S!

  3. td says:

    Who was the best TE they drafted in 2007, Merriweather? Gronk came in 2010 and the biggest travesty I saw was him with a ski boot on one foot in the Super Bowl.

  4. EdgeX says:

    Good news: Deatrich Wise and Jonathan Jones seem to be impressing from camp.

    Bad news: Kony Ealy and Harvey Langi seem to be having trouble with learning curve so far.

    • steve earle says:

      Kind of worried about Ealy and Langi as both areas will be thin if these two don’t pick up the system. Good to hear Wise and J Jones are looking good. Like both.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Weird, I have heard differently in regards to Langi. I have heard he has had a very nice camp and has gotten looks at both LB and Edge.

      • steve earle says:

        That’s what I thought I was hearing too Mike but the post by Edge, who usually has good stuff, made me question it. I know I saw Langi working against one of the LT’s last Sat and getting some coaching after the drill. Anybody have more on the subject?

  5. GM-In-Training says:

    For TE, I think the math comes down to what kind of TE can block well so you don’t know if it’s a run or a pass play, and which kind of TE can create mismatches against LB and DB to be a great chain mover and red zone threat.

    Obviously Gronk is the full package. Length, strength, athleticism, and he knows the system.

    Allen probably has the potential to be all of those things to a lesser degree…maybe equal or better at blocking (not sure).

    Lengel has the length and strength, and next most knowledge of the system…but how athletic to create mismatches?

    O’Shaughnessy and Hollister appear to lack the length and strength, so one really wonders if they can be formidable blockers, even after they learn the system. At least that have ST utility, but so do all the DB and 2nd-string LB.

    Cotton…is kind of a tweener, at about 250#. How does somebody who is neither longest nor fastest create mismatches?

    For the future, my template is smart guys, 6’6″+, 265#, good feet and hands, and who enjoy blocking. Extra points for arms longer than 34″.

    There were a few guys coming out this season that fit that. Adam Shaheen looked pretty interesting. We’ll see of all the rookies who establishes best, but that seems like the recipe.

    The Pats use their swing tackle as a jumbo TE sometimes (blocking only), but that telegraphs the run so much it has drawbacks.

    Similarly, if the Pats play a 240# TE, that telegraphs passing play (or at best an extra FB, but that’s really rare).

    I’d really like to see do-it-all TE as the rule.

    • steve earle says:

      All very true but we have what we have, at least for now. Bill didn’t draft Shaheen, could have, but didn’t. I was looking for him, hoping, but no luck there. The kind of guy your looking for doesn’t come along that often so here we are. Langle is as you describe, better blocker, less receiver. The rest better receivers less blockers. Of those O’Shaughnessy comes closest to Hernandez who worked out pretty well. Thing is do we need another receiving threat or additional blocking on the line? AS you say OT’s sometimes add the extra blocking and what if Gronk goes out again? Back to do we want a blocker or receiver as a 3rd TE? Good question. I’ve argued myself into a box, don’t know.

  6. steve earle says:

    Watching practice Saturday I saw O’Shaughnessy make a couple nice catches. Watching, he moved well and looks to have soft hands. Makes me think he could be in the running for a roster spot or at very least a spot on the PS. Just has to keep improving and stay healthy.

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