The New England Patriots struck gold when they acquired wide receiver Randy Moss from the Raiders for the low, low price of a 4th round pick. Moss is the most talented wide receiver in the history of the game and he immediately stamped his name in the record books with an explosive 23-touchdown 2007 season.
Moss wasn't a stranger to touchdowns, leading the league five times in his career. He was an All Pro as a rookie with a league-leading 17 touchdown receptions, and again in his 3rd season with a league-leading 15 touchdown receptions. When he was 26, he was named All Pro for a third time after leading the league yet again with 17 touchdown receptions.
Before Moss turned 27, he had racked up 77 touchdown receptions. That alone would rank him 28th most all time, and that's all before he put on a Patriots uniform.
Draft analysts look at the Patriots offense on an annual basis and say the exact same thing: New England needs an elite wide receiver. Look at how they unstoppable they were with Moss?
While the Patriots do need a wide receiver, the team already has a player like Moss in 26-year-old tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski, himself a three-time All Pro, has 65 touchdown receptions in his young career. That trails only Moss for most touchdown receptions before a player's 27th birthday. Gronkowski has also missed a full season of games due to injuries or rest (5 in 2012, 9 in 2013, 1 in 2014, and 1 in 2015), which means he has accomplished the feat in far fewer games.
In fact, Moss averaged 0.80 touchdowns per game, while Gronkowski averages 0.81 touchdowns per game.
Gronkowski is primed to have a huge 2016, health permitting, as he enters the prime of his career. Moss had collected 90 touchdowns before his 28th birthday, which means Gronkowski would need 25 touchdowns next season to catch up.
But before he even takes a snap at the age of 27, Gronkowski ranks 3rd for most touchdown receptions before a player's 28th birthday. Gronk's 65 touchdown receptions are tied with Larry Fitzgerald, and trail Jerry Rice by just one score. He's not just with elite company- he's going to dominate them in the rankings.
An average season for Gronkowski with 13 touchdown receptions would move him up the All Time rankings to 28th All Time, and 18 touchdowns will tie him with the likely-retired Calvin Johnson at 22nd. If Gronkowski picks up 26 touchdowns over the next two seasons, he's tie Isaac Bruce for 12th most all time.
Gronkowski already has the
4th 3rd most touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history, trailing just Tony Gonzalez (111 touchdowns), Antonio Gates (104), and Harold Carmichael (79). (ed. note: Carmichael is listed as a tight end for his rookie season, but he was actually a wide receiver)
So while the Patriots can and should improve their wide receiver position, take comfort in knowing that Gronkowski is as much of a physical freak as Moss, and that adding another elite skill player into the offense will likely result in Roger Goodell disbanding the franchise.