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2020 NFL draft: How does Dalton Keene fit the Patriots offense?

Related: Patriots double-dip at tight end, pick Dalton Keene with the 101st overall selection

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots were not done after drafting Devin Asiasi with the 91st overall selection, as they have taken another tight end prospect in Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene. Keene is more of an H-back than a classic tight end, although with James Develin’s neck injury last season they could stand to find a replacement for him. Keene checks off a lot of athletic boxes for a move tight end.

As a rookie, Keene projects to start his H-back role and become a core special teamer. His ability to line up anywhere and be able to block or run routes will add a layer of needed versatility to the offense. He has the athletic chops to outrun linebackers in space and has plenty of size to box out defensive backs. He’ll need to work on improving his route tree and sustaining blocks to be a more effective H-back tight end, but he has the right makeup and leadership skills to become a key cog on this team.

Over the long term, Keene projects to team up with Asiasi to form a solid 1-2 punch at the Patriots’ tight end position. Neither player projects to be pluses, but could prove to be reliable second, third, or fourth options in New England’s offense. Keene has the versatility to not only perform as a move tight end, but also line up as a fullback and be a lead blocker in I-formation plays when the Patriots want to assert themselves in the run game. He also gives Josh McDaniels a movable chess piece to force the defense to tip its hand and could give quarterback Jarrett Stidham a bigger edge in the pre-snap phase of the game.


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