9 Days to the Draft: Arizona TE, Rob Gronkowski

With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.

Arizona's Rob Gronkowski is one of the top tight ends in the draft. He's got terrific size and strength to be a tight end at the NFL level. His combine stats are better than his tight end counterpart Jermaine Gresham. Gronk is a physical blocker who can catch most things thrown in his direction. Just looking at his body of work, Gronkowski should be a no brainer in the second round. However, Gronk has suffered from a terrible back injury that forced him to the sideline this past season. Back injuries are one of the worst kinds of injury in thus physical sport so although he has been medically cleared, there should still be a red flag about his fragility. Regardless, Gronkowski could be the most well rounded tight end in this draft. Is he worth the risk?

His measurements and some quotes after the jump.

WalterFootball.com Scouting

Height: 6-6. Weight: 258.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70.
Pro Day 40 Time: 4.65.
Benchx225: 23. Vertical: 33.5. Arm: 34 1/4.

Player Comparison: Kevin Boss. Boss and Gronkowski have similar frames, athleticism and receiving skills.

Click the Link for a fantastic player review!

CBSSports.com Scouting

03/27/2010 - PRO DAY RESULTS: One of the tougher evaluations in the upcoming draft is Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski. The talented tight end is considered one of best prospects in the draft at his position, but missed all of last season with a back injury, and was not ready to run drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was finally able to work out in front of scouts on Saturday, and his performance was eye-opening. He ran outdoors on grass in front of representatives from 15 teams. Bengals tight end coach Jonathan Hayes ran the position drills. Gronkowski (6-foot-6 1/4, 258 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds with the wind and 4.73 seconds against the wind. He had a 33 1/2-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump, a 4.47-second short shuttle, a 7.18-second three-cone drill and stood on his bench press number from the combine. He did all the position drills and looked good catching the ball and running routes. He only had two drops. His strong workout should give him a boost heading into the draft. Rob's brother, Chris Gronkowski, also worked out. Chris (6-2, 239) ran 4.72 with the wind and 4.71 against the wind in the 40 and had a 4.40 short shuttle. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com

02/19/2010 - PRO POTENTIAL: TE Rob Gronkowski - He's coming off back surgery, which wiped out his 2009 season. Without the injury concern, he likely would have projected as a first-round pick as a do-it-all tight end with great hands, speed, size, power and the ability to be more than just a pass-catcher. He says he'll be able to completely work out for scouts before the draft; if so, they will love him. If he slips past the second round, he'll be a steal.

NFL.com Scouting

Gronkowski made an immediate impact when he arrived at the University of Arizona and has been a standout tight end when he has been healthy enough to stay on the field. Unfortunately he has missed a total of 16 games over the past two years due to injuries or illness. He has an elite combination of size, speed and athleticism for the position and while he lacks great downfield speed he can be an effective receiver at virtually all levels of the passing tree. He is a tough, no nonsense type of blocker but still needs some work on his blocking techniques. If he can stay healthy he could provide a team with a quality starting tight end.

Strengths

Gronkowski has prototypical size and good speed. Shows fluid hips and runs precise routes. Possesses the lateral quickness and burst to get open in man coverage. Catches the ball away from his chest and displays good body control. Effective blocker that can generate a push. Very productive in his two seasons in the Pac-10.

Weaknesses

Durability concerns since he missed the entire 2009 season after back surgery and missed three games in 2008. Does not have a great top-end speed and may not be able to stretch the field at the next level. Lacks the elusiveness to make people miss after catch.

Verdict: Gronkowski is a phenomenal player who is an all around player who would be the best fit for the Patriots. His injury past scares me and that's what makes me shy away from selecting him in the 2nd round mock drafts. If the Patriots have faith that his back won't be a problem, Gronkowski would be the best fit in the entire draft to fill the tight end role. If his back is still questioned, then I have to say that we should pass on him and take a more healthy player later in the draft.

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