13 Days to the Draft: Florida TE, Aaron Hernandez

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.

Florida TE Aaron Hernandez could be the best tight end receiver in the draft. He is the only one of the top 3 tight ends to play this past season, but even Hernandez got injured during this off-season, tearing a muscle in his back. He can catch almost anything thrown at him, which means that he'll be picked early by a team who needs a pass catching threat from the tight end position. At 6-3, 245 lbs, he's slight undersized, especially when compared to Alge Crumpler and definitely undersized when looking at the 6-6, 260 lbs tight ends in Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski. Hernandez definitely has the versatility the Patriots like and could step back into the HB position if called upon. The biggest knock upon Hernandez is his in-line blocking (the fancy term for "blocking on the line"), which could very well have to do with his smaller frame. Does Hernandez meet the Patriots need at tight end?

His measurements and some quotes after the jump.

Walterfootball.com Scouting

Height: 6-3. Weight: 243.
Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
Pro Day 40 Time: 4.58.
Benchx225: 30. Vertical: 33. Arm: 32 1/4.

Player Comparison: Dustin Keller. Keller was a great receiving threat out of Purdue with below-average size for a tight end - a poor in-line blocker.

Click the link to read more! Great in-depth on Hernandez

CBSSports.com Scouting

03/18/2010 - PRO DAY RESULTS: Scouts from all 32 teams also saw a number of Gators workout on grass in a slight drizzle at Florida's pro day: Tight end Aaron Hernandez (6-2 5/8, 243) ran 4.64 and 4.67 in the 40, had a 33-inch vertical leap, 9-3 broad jump, 4.19 short shuttle, 6.81 three-cone drill and did 30 bench press reps. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com

03/16/2010 - According to the NFL Network, Florida TE Aaron Hernandez sat out the Combine due to a torn muscle in his back. NFLN's Mike Mayock also notes "off-the-field issues" and size concerns that appear to be hurting Hernandez's stock. It's unclear if Hernandez needed surgery on his back, but we'll know he didn't if he's able to perform at UF's Pro Day on Wednesday. Mayock believes Hernandez could still go in round two. - USA TODAY football

02/26/2010 - Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez, due to a tweaked back suffered a few weeks ago in training, will wait until Florida's March 17 Pro Day to work out for scouts. The Mackey Award winner led the nation in receptions (68) and receiving yards (850) from the tight end position, but despite his production certainly has questions to answer with scouts, not the least of which is how his 6-2, 245 pound frame will hold up as a full-time tight end in the NFL. Perhaps the most interesting aspect about Hernandez's interview was his expectation for himself during the 40-yard dash. "I'd say at worst, probably a low 4.5," he said. That would answer the question of how he'd hold up as a full-time tight-end. He'd do so by leaving linebackers in his wake. - Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com

02/24/2010 - 2010 NFL DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64: 47. *Aaron Hernandez ??? TE, Florida, 6-2, 250, 2: He is not as big as the top tight ends these days, but he is adept at snatching those quick, short passes and has the ability to add extra yards after the catch. Hernandez cannot be called a powerful in-line blocker, where he is more willing than able. He is probably a more effective blocker in space, where he aggressively attacks defenders. He caught 68 passes for 850 yards last year. - Frank Cooney, USA TODAY/NFL Draft Scout

NFL.com Scouting

Hernandez is a slightly undersized tight end that will best fit schemes that use an H-back as well as the traditional tight end. He is athletic and shows good downfield speed when running vertical routes and does a good job of adjusting to balls when thrown slightly off target. He has natural hand-eye coordination and consistently reaches out to pluck the ball. He can struggle when physical linebackers line up over him to hinder his release and is more effective when lined up off the line of scrimmage. He is not a very strong or physical blocker in line and takes questionable angles when blocking at the second level.

Strengths

Hernandez has impressive speed and athleticism for the tight end position. Was extremely productive in college, earning first team all-conference recognition. Has very natural ball skills, catches away from his body, can bring in off-target throws and can go up for the jump ball. Great route running ability. Is fluid and creates separation. Productive after the catch.

Weaknesses

Hernandez lacks the prototypical size we look for in tight ends at the next level. We question his natural strength. Blocking is a major area of concern and may limit him to the H-back role. Isn’t strong at the point of attack and won’t consistently move defenders.

Go and see his highlight videos at NFL.com (click the link)!

Verdict: As nice it would be to grab a TE/HB, our need is greater with a strong TE and you can't teach the size that Hernandez misses. Wait, you say, Crumpler is only 6-2! That's true, but Crumpler is only a band-aid. We need a TE for the future and Crumpler, with the 20 lbs of weight he has over Hernandez, needs an able sized TE to teach. Sorry Hernandez, while you're a great athlete and will probably put up great receiving statistics somewhere, your blocking skills aren't really your fault. A Patriots TE needs to be able to block on the line and receive- and blocking can be taught. Expect us to grab a bigger sized TE later in the draft who can be taught to block.

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