The Patriots need to improve their tight end depth and there are four main tight ends that sit at the top of everyone's list.
Eric Ebron. Right shoulder. Hamstring.
Jace Amaro. Spleen. Ribs. Concussion.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Fractured foot. Fractured hand.
Troy Niklas. Groin. Concussions.
And that's just in the past year and a half.
Sounds like these players are going to fit right in.
The Patriots were bit by an absurd injury bug over the 2013 season that derailed any possibility of the Patriots reaching the Super Bowl. While other positions may have been hit harder (defensive tackle), there was no greater impact than the injuries at tight end. And all those injuries belonged to Rob Gronkowski.
If you're looking to find the paragon of clean health, this isn't the draft for you. Heck, this isn't the position for you. In this new age of tight ends, it's extremely rare for the position to last a full season. Over the past five seasons, tight ends with 30 or more receptions have had a hard time staying healthy.
Only Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, and Greg Olsen have appeared in every game over that span. Vernon Davis missed a game last season with a concussion, or else he would have appeared. Brent Celek didn't meet the reception mark in 2013 and also missed a game in 2012 with a concussion.
If we look at just the past two seasons, there's a shocking five who have played all 32 regular season games. Martellus Bennett and Brandon Myers join ToGo, Witten, and Olsen as the Iron Tight Ends. There's no real common thread amongst these players, either. They're all a generic 6'3-6'6 and 250-260 lbs.
If you're going to be of value as a tight end, you're going to be in the line of fire. And you're going to go down.
We can all cross our fingers and hope that whichever tight end the Patriots select can remain healthy for the entire season. And we can hope the Patriots put their players in the best situation to not only remain healthy, but also move beyond any past injuries.
Or maybe the Patriots could take C.J. Fiedorowicz, who seems to be the only tight end projected to be drafted in the first two days to have not been seriously injured.
But if you're looking for a tight end with hands that you can point at and say, "this player is healthy!," you're looking at the wrong position. They just don't exist.
So maybe if football, and specifically the tight end position, is a war of attrition, the Patriots should load up with ammo. Don't invest a top draft pick in a position that never sees a full season until the end. Instead, maybe invest a couple middle round picks and hope for the best.