Potential Patriots TE Dan Gronkowski Prospect Review

[The Globe is reporting that this deal is confirmed. Will wait for additional confirmation]

Until this transaction is confirmed, the Patriots' acquisition of TE Dan Gronkowski is just speculation- but this speculation is something wonderful. Dan is the brother of current Patriots' TE Rob Gronkowski who seems to be the most complete tight end in recent Patriots' memory. Dan Gronkowski (who will now be referred to as "Da Gronk") could fill the much needed role of 3rd tight end on the Patriots' roster.

The Patriots' 3rd tight end will mostly be utilized as an extra blocker and an emergency valve for quarterback Tom Brady. Da Gronk appears to be perfect for that role. Here's a couple draft breakdowns from 2009, when Da Gronk was a draft prospect:

CBS Sports

With head coach Ralph Friedgen turning over the offense to coordinator James Franklin, the new West Coast offensive system saw Gronkowski emerge as a quality receiver. Already regarded as one of college football's premier blockers, the Terrapin Council team leader was never really a focal point of the team's aerial attack during his first three seasons, but that all changed during his final campaign.

As a junior, Gronkowski...pulled in seven passes for 66 yards (9.4 avg), as five of those grabs produced first downs. Three of his receptions were for 10 yards or longer, as he set up two touchdown drives and three other series that ended with Terps' field goals with his key catches. He delivered nine touchdown-resulting blocks, 10 blocks downfield and a total of 48 knockdowns, grading 86.63 percent for blocking consistency, the highest grade of any tight end in the nation during the season [note: emphasis mine].

As a senior, Gronkowski started 12 games. After catching just 11 passes in his first three seasons, the Terrapin Council member hauled in a career-high 29 passes, good for 287 yards (9.9 avg) and three touchdowns. He also continued his excellence as a blocker, as he registered 66 knockdowns, coming up with 11 touchdown-resulting blocks.

Based on his performance, it appears that Da Gronk is the perfect 3rd TE for the Patriots' offense. He's a ferocious blocker who can catch in a pinch; that sounds oddly familiar to the role of Alge Crumpler.

Read more after the jump!

More CBS Breakdown:

Positives: Looks the part. Good height, and even weight distribution. Good initial pop at the line of scrimmage as a blocker. Good hand placement. Good upper body strength to lock on and has the leg drive to knock defenders off the ball. Good lateral agility and balance to stay square with the defender. Good effort at the second level to block downfield. Uses his hands well to get off the line of scrimmage and into his routes. Presents a big target to the quarterback and knows where the holes in the zone are located. Secure receiver who can take a pop and hang on.

Negatives: Lacks the preferred athleticism for the position. Only a short yardage target in the passing game. Slow off the line of scrimmage. Lumbers downfield and struggles to sink his hips and generate any explosion out of his breaks. Lacks the frame to add much more weight.

Here is a comparison to the combine numbers of the Gronk Brothers:

Bro Height Weight 40 Dash 20 Shuttle 3 Cone Broad Jump Bench
Rob 6'6 265 4.65 4.47 7.18 9'11 23
Dan 6'5.5 255 4.79 4.26 6.92 10'02 26

So what can we see? Rob is the faster brother who provides a bigger target down the field. Dan is the quicker and stronger brother who provides quality blocking on the line and a big short range target. It seems to me that Rob and Dan are great complements as inline blockers and as receivers.

A lot of the reports say that Dan's athleticism doesn't translate to the field; I believe that his athleticism has to be better utilized in order for him to flourish. By putting him in the 3rd tight end role, his skill set as a primary blocker and secondary short range receiver is maximized.

Overall, I approve of this move. I believe that Da Gronk is a better option as a 3rd TE than either Will Yeatman or Lee Smith and, should this deal go forward, Da Gronk will prove to be a valuable addition.

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