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New England Patriots 2018 roster breakdown: #TBD TE Ryan Izzo

The late-round rookie tries to earn a spot on New England’s tight end depth chart.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots currently have the maximum of 90 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the next weeks, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Today, the series continues with one of the Patriots’ draft picks.

Name: Ryan Izzo

Position: Tight end

Jersey number: TBD (offseason #60)

Opening day age: 22

Experience: Rookie

Size: 6’5, 255 lbs.

2017 review: He is not the most athletically gifted player, but Ryan Izzo typically got the job done during his four-year college career at Florida State – and last year was no different. Not only did the Seminoles’ starting tight end saw extensive action as an in-line blocker in the running game, he also set new career-marks in every major receiving category: playing in all 13 games, Izzo caught 20 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns.

The numbers do not stand out, but Izzo did perform well even when going against some of college football’s best teams. Against the four ranked colleges on Florida State’s schedule, he caught a combined eight passes for 180 yards and two scores. His most impressive outing arguably came against the nation’s top team: Izzo caught three passes for 46 yards against Alabama, something no other tight end was able to do in 2017.

While Izzo was a solid contributor during his senior campaign, his physical limitations were also on display throughout the season: he failed to consistently gain separation versus man-coverage due to his lack of burst and straight-line speed, and also was unable to get enough push as a blocker from time to time. Nevertheless, his potential outweighed those questions and Izzo entered draft season as a day three-candidate.

2018 preview: The Patriots picked Izzo in the seventh round in April and subsequently signed him to a four-year, $2.53 million contract. Despite a relatively modest cap hit of $497,268 this season, however, he is far from guaranteed a spot on New England’s 2018 squad due to his status as a late-round rookie and the physical limitations that caused him to slip to the 250th draft selection.

Consequently, Izzo will have to emerge victoriously from this summer’s tight end competition to earn a spot on the team’s active roster or practice squad. Even though the deck to make the 53 appears to be stacked against him – Rob Gronkowski is a roster lock; Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister are favored to join him –, Izzo could challenge Allen’s standing on the team with a strong training camp.

After all, the veteran comes with a much heftier price tag and like the rookie is projected to serve primarily as a blocking tight end. If Izzo is able to add to his frame and prove himself in this area, he might be given the nod over Allen and the other competitors. Ultimately, however, Izzo appears to be destined to get released during September’s roster cuts with the goal of bringing him back via the practice squad.