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So What Will the Patriots Do at Tight End?

The Patriots seemed to let the position go by the wayside; how are they supposed to move forward?


I'm a little disappointed, but the Patriots just ignored their tight end position as they likely agreed with the scouts consensus:

"Once you get past the first two or three everyone else you just put them in a bag and kind of shake them up," one scout said. "There's nothing that really stands out. The tough part is all the guys that are talented have off-field issues."

The team never would have had a shot at Eric Ebron. My sources say they were fairly high on Austin Seferian-Jenkins and, to an extent, Troy Niklas. They were never going to get Jace Amaro due to the Jets' obsession with his ability.

Beyond that, they weren't really the biggest fans of who was available and, like the above scout said, the rest of the players are interchangeable. So don't bother using a draft pick and just collect whoever is left over in free agency.

So right now, the team picked up three tight ends after the draft ended:

Tyler Beck, Bowling Green - More of an F-type (fullback, slot tight end, not inline) at 6'3, 250 lbs, Beck should enough athleticism to be a a fullback, but has no production that would show him to be an improvement over James Develin.

Asa Watson, North Carolina State - Brother of Ben Watson, Asa is similar to Beck in the F role at 6'2, 240 lbs. He had a quality 2012 season (24 receptions) and seemed ready to break out in 2013, but was greatly underutilized. He seems to be the frontrunner to displace Develin on the Patriots' depth chart.

Justin Jones, East Carolina - Jones is silly big at 6'7 3/4, 275 lbs. He runs a 4.9 40, but flaunts a 6.88 3 cone, which is on par with most slot receivers (and ahead of the likes of receivers Allen Robinson [7.00], Sammy Watkins [6.95], and more). Jones was made academically ineligible in 2013, so he hasn't played in the past season, but was a rising talent. And despite his imposing size, his most effective plays came out of the slot.

So what can we determine? The Patriots seem to be fine with Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui as the depth at Y (in-line tight end). For whatever reason, the team is comfortable with that depth. Bill Belichick seems to be on the hunt for that versatile tight end who both be a threat as a receiver out of the slot, yet can also have the versatility to flex into the fullback role.

So I'm throwing another name into the ring. I'm almost positive that Dustin Keller will receive a contract offer by the start of veteran camp (the end of May). He fills the exact role that they seem to be signing and it would make sense to have a veteran presence at the role for camp.

The team might not have addressed the position in the draft due to circumstance and a low level of opinion of the talent, but that doesn't mean that the team is done shaping the roster. Tight ends will be on their way. That much is certain.