NFL Network is slowly counting down its annual list of the Top 100 Players as voted by their peers. The 2017 version saw four members of the New England Patriots presented already, but it has been more than a month before the last one – wide receiver Julian Edelman – saw his name called.
During yesterday’s show, the next Patriot on the list was finally revealed:
#23: TE Rob Gronkowski
Despite appearing in only eight games in 2016, Gronkowski becomes the fifth Patriots player on the list. He joins fellow offensive playmakers Julian Edelman (#71) and LeGarrette Blount (#80) as well as defenders Dont’a Hightower (#94) and Malcolm Butler (#99) as those representing the team thus far.
The short clip during which he is introduced shows why his brethren deemed him worthy of a spot on the list despite an injury-shortened season. "He’s just a matchup nightmare," Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said about Gronkowski before Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eiftert added that "he’s just so big; guys can’t play through him".
"The way he catches the ball and runs after the catch, he’s the best in the league," noted fellow tight end Jack Doyle of the Indianapolis Colts. Gronkowski’s ability to catch the football was not the only positive trait mentioned. "If it’s him against a linebacker blocking, I got him every time," Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah pointed out when talking about the 28-year old’s blocking abilities.
While his ranking is up for debate given that he appeared in not even half of New England’s 2016 games, there is no denying that Gronkowski is the most impactful tight end in the NFL when on the field. "He’ll probably leave the game as the best tight end ever," said Heyward-Bey. "He’s the best in our era for sure."
As such, it is not surprising to see Gronkowski be named the NFL’s 23rd best player – down from ninth in 2016 – despite his season ending early due to injury.
To watch the clip, click here: