Another pick, another Gator. The New England Patriots' Aaron Hernandez was rated as one of the best (if not THE best) receiving tight ends coming into the draft. The largest knocks on his potential at the NFL level was his size- he's not that tall. At 6'2.5, 243 lbs, he lacks the elite size needed to be an in-line blocker. However, our selection of Rob Gronkowski gave us a fantastic in-line blocking tight end.
Hernandez has the versatility (theme of the draft) to be a multi-utility player. He can play special teams. He can play halfback. He can play tight end. He has the athleticism to step to the side and play a big heavy wide receiver. In an attempt to draft players that can stay on the field for most of the game, Belichick grabbed himself a player who can perform in most facets of the game.
He can't block on the line? Move him to halfback. He too small to be a tight end? Have him step out as receiver. Don't need him on offense? Throw him on special teams and have him learn from Alge Crumpler.
Here's what I said about Hernandez:
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.
I say we need to grab a TE for the future- well we snagged that with Gronk. I was expecting Hernandez to be a 2nd round selection, which is why I didn't think he'd be a great pick early on. Taking him in the 4th is fantastic with his potential upside.
More information after the jump!
Release: Lacks size, but shows good use of hands and surprising strength to battle through the initial jam when coming off the line of scrimmage.
Hands: Among his better assets.
Route running: Lacks size, but has good use of hands and surprising strength to fight through the jam at the inline position
After the catch: This might be his strongest area.
Blocking: Simply lacks the bulk and strength to provide much as an inline blocker. Isn't afraid of contact and will crash down on the linebacker. Good effort in getting to and sustaining at the second level. Looks for someone to hit when his teammates have the ball in space.
NFL Comparison: Dustin Keller, Jets
Summary: Hernandez becomes a great value complementary piece to Rob Gronkowski. We have a potential Jason Witten paired with a potential Dustin Keller, transforming our biggest weakness at tight end to a position that mind command some respect. Perhaps our tight ends will become more involved in the offensive receiving game. Expect Hernandez to step in and help at halfback. Great value pick that, accompanied by an earlier selection of Gronkowski, makes me extremely happy. If Hernandez alone was the pick, I wouldn't like it, but he complements Gronkowski perfectly.