The New England Patriots revitalized the tight end position in 2010 with the additions of 2nd round draft pick Rob Gronkowski and 4th rounder Aaron Hernandez, along with the free agent pickup Algae Crumpler. During a clip of 2009's Bill Belichick: 'A Football Life' coach Belichick explains his frustrations with not having a dynamic receiver outside of Wes Welker and Randy Moss. During the 2010 season, the duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski became one of the best in the NFL.
With Rob Gronkowski suffering another major setback of tearing his ACL and MCL in 2013, nobody will ever know if the all-pro tight end will ever be the same and if the tight end position will ever revive in New England.
With New England resigning veteran, Michael Hooman to a two-year deal and D.J. Williams still on the roster, New England must avoid missing out on a premier tight end during the 2014 draft next week. Last year, Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas totaled 66 receptions for 793 yards along with 12 touchdowns and became a very reliable target for quarterback Peyton Manning down the stretch. That is the type of player the Patriots need, a young, humble, hard working tight end that has that physical advantage and aggressiveness the tea has been lacking.
Reflecting back..... the Gronk-Hernandez duo
During the 2011 season, New England owned the best offense and tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and former tight end Aaron Hernandez in the NFL. However, over the course of the next two seasons injuries and off the field issues would separate and diminish the fantastic duo. Hernandez was convicted of murder over the summer of 2013 and Rob Gronkowski was struggling with a broken forearm, multiple back surgeries and a sore ankle and the duo would never see the field together again.
The dynamic-duo set NFL records for yardage with 2,237, receptions with 169 and 25 touchdowns during that season.The Hernandez-Gronkowski duo (2010-2012) totaled 358 receptions for 4,620 yards, along with 56 touchdowns during that stretch. The Patriots are looking for a tight end as insurance for Rob Gronkowski who has had huge setbacks during the past three seasons and one who can help pick up the slack of the offense while complementing 'Gronk'.
Here is a look at two potential tight ends the Patriots should consider pursuing during the 2014 NFL draft next week:
1. Marcell Jensen, TE Fresno State
tight end is projected to fall to the 7th round of the 2014 NFL draft, but has a great chance to be a draft steal. Jensen presents a great catch radius (great news for Tom Brady), and he shows the ability to catch passes out of his frame and has high leaping ability as well. His yards after catch make him an average quality tight end, but his toughness and skill make him a very good prospect. Being under looked in the draft may actually help Jensen to increase his motivation to prove those doubters wrong and perform at a high level. He has very rare issues with controlling the ball, drops and catches outside of his frame, and his ability to secure the ball remains a positive.
Some interesting qualities are Jensen’s ability to play on special teams totaling four career blocked kicks while at Fresno State, and versatility. Jensen suffered a major setback when he injured his groin at the Senior Bowl and slipping down the draft boards as a result. Jensen recorded a 4.85 time during the 40 meter dash35 inches during the Vertical jump, 4.60 time during the shuttle and 7.38 during the 3-cone drill at the NFL combine. He may be underrated because of some of his negative qualities with blocking, run-blocking, and limited play making abilities but he is someone to pay attention to during the upcoming 2014 NFL draft in just a weeks’ time.
2. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Amaro is a very strong, smart athlete and has incredible skills and speed that are among his standout qualities. Listed at (6-foot-4 1/2, 255 pounds), Amaro has the physicality, size and speed that the Patriots have truly lacked with the inconsistency Gronkowski has shown with his lingering injury issues over the past 3 seasons. Amaro is similar to Hernandez, he is an H-Tight end and his position sometimes gets confused with a receiver because he has a receiver assets. During the 2013 season, Amaro totaled seven touchdowns and 106 receptions.