Boy do we need need help at Tight End. Luckily, it appears that the Patriots have managed to catch former Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans TE Alge Crumpler. Crumpler, who was a pass catching stud in Atlanta, evolved into an elite blocking TE, as clearly shown by Titans' RB Chris Johnson having an above average last season.
At 32 years old, the 6-2, 262 lb TE appears to be entering the end of his career- much like Seau, Taylor, etc. all were reaching the end of theirs. While this clearly does not seem to be a long term solution at the position, I can think of only current Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez as a player who would be better suited for teaching young players the position. Crumpler is most likely just a band-aid at the position, but the most important factor in his signing is that we know that he can play. Unlike some of the damaged goods in the past, Crumpler has maintained a high standard of blocking that we are going to utilize. While his receiving stats may have been left in Atlanta, we haven't leaned too heavily upon our tight ends to be top receivers- as long as they can catch the ball (and he caught 73% of the balls thrown his way last season).
So what does this mean? It probably means very little. You can expect us to grab our normal 6th or 7th round TE prospect as much as you can expect Boston's weather tomorrow to be sunny/rainy/cloudy/clear/snowy/sleety/hurricaney/earthquakey/existent. What this MAY effect is our need to grab a young stud TE early in the draft. As of now, there is no TE who is just so perfectly well rounded (all the early prospect TEs are catch first, block maybe) that we HAVE to grab them if available. My thought is that Crumpler can groom our project TEs that we draft. I bet that we'll pick up a couple other TEs that get dropped post-draft and during training camps.
Crumpler is a high character player that I'm happy to have aboard. He's been called a great leader and is clearly locker room guy. Rookie Jared Cook had this to say about Crumpler taking him under his wing:
“Crump was a big influence on my first year, he just taught me so much. Every chance I got I would ask him questions, just picking his brain a little bit. He was kind of a backbone, to correct a lot of things when I came off the field in any aspect of the game."
I hope that Crumpler takes this mindset to our locker room and spreads the love.
Welcome aboard Alge Crumpler! Glad to have you!