Gronks injury history has fans wondering, Why didnt we draft a tight end?
Every time Rob Gronkowski touches the football, you hold your breath. You hold it because you know he's bound to break a few tackles on the way into the end zone so we can scream with our families, kids, friends alike and Gronk spike the remote into the couch because you swear you can spike it harder. But we also hold our breath because there's thought in the back of our minds that something on this young stud Tight End is going to break and it's not going to be a tackle. Unfortunately, the last time he grazed a football with his finger tips, we saw him take a shot to the knee, flip, and land on his side. Potentially knocked out for a split second, you see him reach for the knee. Then it all sinks in. "He's done, again." And honestly, it's too bad. He's an amazing athlete at a grueling position because he not only catch like a Wide Receiver, he can block like an All-Pro lineman.
With only training camp and preseason in the way of the regular season, the question remain, "Will Gronk be ready." And we all know how that's going to be answered. So as fans, we have to just understand that we won't really know until that opening kick.
With only two veteran Tight Ends on the Patriots roster before the NFL Draft, The Patriots had a pretty glaring hole to take care of. They needed to draft a Tight End in my eyes. This draft was loaded with Tight End talent. How could they pass? They had ample opportunities to grab one. I had every one marked, "They have to take this guy. They passed on the last one!" Bye Ebron. Bye Sefarian-Jenkins. Alright were good, Amaro is around and Niklas. Fierdowicz is still there for plan E. Bye Amaro. Bye Niklas. Okay, here's our pick. We've got the Tight End from Iowa, Fierdowicz. Not a doubt in my mind I called it.
Umm... what? You really drafted a QB? Let's get this straight. Brady is never going to retire. He has to play until he's able to retire as a citizen. So around 61 or 62 years old. So not only do they not grab a Tight End in the draft, you've now drafted a Quarterback and now I'm starting to freak out, "this could be Brady's successor. This isn't good. Are these tears or eye sweat? Can't let the fellas see that." The draft goes by and not one Tight End drafted.
Insert undraftted free agent frenzy here. They end up with 6'8" mammoth Justin Jones out of East Carolina and 6'3" Asa Watson out of North Carolina State. You may remember his brother, first round pick Benjamin Watson. While none of this seems sexy or name worthy, the first thing that comes to mind for myself is Zach Sudfeld. Another tall and athletic undraftted Tight End the Pats took a flyer on. Awesome preseason. Check. Gronk comparisons. Check. Opening game roster. Check. Gronk-like statistics. You are the weakest link, good bye. Now the hope is that these two new kids out of college will provide depth at the position, one that needs it. Provide a redzone target which the Patriots lacked until Gronkowskis return. And a "move" Tight End the can run down the middle of the seam and make people miss, ala Aaron Hernandez.
Watson brings straight line speed with opportunities to make players miss. He had 27 career college catches. Obviously, this does not sound appealing. But who did he have throwing him the ball? You don't know? Neither do I. The verdict is still out. If he can't play with New England, he will walk right out the door as quick as he came in.
Jones is the player that has the most upside of the two. He intrigues me the most. 6'8" with a 38 inch vertical and 4.90 speed. Freak athlete to say the least. He sat out the 2013 season at ECU due to academic purposes, according to NESN.com. But in his last full season in 2012, Jones reeled in 25 catches for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns. Again, a kid with that size and speed, it's no wonder why the Pats took a flyer on him. Should he pan out, the Patriots could have a very solid steal of a player.
If I was a betting man and I'm not saying I am, I would have to say that if Gronk does make it back for week one, Watson will make the practice squad. Justin Jones makes the roster as a low risk/high reward player with major upside. With the Hooman there as your 3rd blocking Tight End.
Training Camp should be an interesting battle at the position and it's wide open outside of Gronk. Big decisions to come Coach Hoodies way.
Will not drafting a Tight End hurt them? It remains to be seen but the one man you don't bet against is Bill Belicheck. You just don't. You're dumb if you do. Honestly.