The Patriots need a tight end and the front office has been doing their due diligence at the combine. They've met with the tight ends projected to be selected on the first two days of the draft. That doesn't mean anything, but it does show that New England cares about upgrading their tight end spot.
We're breaking down some of the top prospects over at our Draft section of the Pulpit, but I want to highlight some late rounders that deserve some attention.
Arthur Lynch, Georgia, Y TE, 6'5, 260 lbs - One of the more complete tight ends in the draft, it's likely he's maxed out his size. He's an ideal TE2 for a system and can both block and catch.
Marcel Jensen, Fresno State, H TE, 6'6, 260 lbs - Extremely raw, Jensen is a former basketball player (reason he went to Fresno) with great hands. He's a liability as a blocker, but he's willing to improve.
Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State, Y TE, 6'6, 260 lbs - A complete tight end, but extremely raw. He's very athletic and is able to pluck the ball out of the air and add YAC. Specifically requested by the Jaguars to attend the Senior Bowl after Jensen was injured and had to leave.
Richard Rodgers, California, H TE, 6'4, 260 lbs - Underutilized in the Cal offense, Rodgers was asked to shed 30 lbs in 2013 when a new coach took over the offense. Not the best of blockers, he's put back on some of the weight he lost since the season's ended to bulk up. He's a darling of draftniks, and is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Jake Murphy, Utah, Y TE, 6'4, 250 lbs - Murphy is flying under the radar, but is one of the more complete tight ends. He plays the same game as Lynch, but provides a much higher upside and a much lower floor. He missed four games this past season due to a broken wrist, and is fairly inexperienced for a 24 year old.
Xavier Grimble, USC, Y TE, 6'5, 250 lbs - Like Rodgers, Grimble was greatly underused in college. He has undeniable athleticism and is a more-than-willing and able blocker. He's still just scratching the surface of his talent and could be a surprise all-around talent.
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin, H TE, 6'3, 240 lbs - Projecting as a fullback, Pedersen has the flexibility to move into the slot as a receiver. He's not going to be an elite athlete after the catch, but he can provide a reliable enough performance to be an outlet for a quarterback.
A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State, H TE, 6'2, 250 lbs - Another joker, Leonard is an obvious fullback choice. He has strong hands and is fairly strong in the open field. He is definitely a project, though, and will have a lot of learning to do to clean up how raw he is on the field.
Chris Coyle, Arizona State, H TE, 6'2, 235 lbs - Coyle is likely the most dangerous of the late round tight ends. However, he's more of a gloried receiver as his blocking leaves much to be desired. He was actually used inline and as fullback, so he has some fight in him, but he's not going to be a road grading blocker.
Gator Hoskins, Marshall, H TE, 6'1, 245 lbs - A red zone fiend and a dominant athlete, Hoskins took over the Marshall offense as a jackknife weapon. He can block as a FB, he can be dangerous of the slot. He's unrefined and he's fairly short, but he can succeed in the right offense. Smaller alternative to Leonard.
Ted Bolser, Indiana, Y TE, 6'6, 260 lbs - Not an elite athlete, Bolser projects as an ideal TE3 on a roster. He can block very well and he has enough hands to receive a few targets in the red zone. He's a late round alternative to Fiedorowicz and could emerge as a desired late round option.
Rob Blanchflower, Massachusetts, Y TE, 6'4, 260 lbs - Blanchflower has some impressive size, but he's inconsistent with his concentration as a receiver. His upside is there, but he's definitely a project. He's a willing blocker and is a weapon up the seam.
Honestly, don't be too sad if the Patriots don't take a tight end on the first two days of the draft. They have plenty of holes they need to address that are slightly more pressing (no point in a tight end if the interior line is ranked 32nd in the league in sacks allowed in under 2.5 seconds). And when looking at some day three talent, I feel comfortable saying that a few players (namely Gillmore, Murphy, and Grimble) have similar upside to the tight ends projected on days 1 and 2.
The Patriots should definitely double-dip at tight end in this draft, but I would support a day-3-double. Should Eric Ebron not be available (very likely), or Austin Seferian-Jenkins be too costly (we'll see how he performs at the combine), then some late round options gain appeal.
If New England were unable to select any of the main 5 tight ends, who would you be interested in selecting?