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Patriots rookie comparisons: Devin Asiasi, tight end

UCLA’s Devin Asiasi landed in New England at pick No. 91 overall.

Arizona State v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

In an effort to put an end to the long-standing question of “Who does he remind me of?” Keagan Stiefel has compiled a list of player comparisons for the New England Patriots’ 2020 draft class. Each will get a pro comparison and a comparison to a current or former Patriot. Now, these rookies are not necessarily going to become those that they are compared to, but they share similarities in terms of playing style.

The Patriots could not have gotten less tight end production in 2019 if they tried. After employing the greatest tight end of all time for nine seasons, the entire position group took a nosedive when Rob Gronkowski announced his — short-lived — retirement in March of 2019. The tight ends totaled 37 catches, 419 yards, and two touchdowns for the Patriots last year, by far the worst in the NFL. Now, they employ four rookies and a three-year veteran who is on the roster bubble, putting a ton of pressure on this newcomer.

The Player

  • Devin Asiasi
  • Position: tight end
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 257 pounds

Devin Asiasi and UCLA football may not have been the best fit. Despite that, Asiasi made major strides in his two seasons as a Bruin, putting up 44 catches for 641 yards and four touchdowns in 2019. A huge leap from his 6 catch campaign in 2018. The Patriots are hoping he can build on that in their offense, which has the potential to be a match made in heaven. There is no doubt that the New England offense will look different this upcoming season, but Asiasi’s strengths line up well with what the team looks for out of their tight ends. These comparisons will show you how.

Pro Comparison

  • Austin Hooper
  • Position: tight end
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 254 pounds

Not only did these guys put up eerily similar statistics in their final college years ...

They both excelled at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif.

Naturally, since Asiasi and Austin Hooper traveled a similar path to the NFL, their on the field play has mirrored each other as well. As receivers, both guys play best in space. They have a great ability of exploiting the weak spot in a zone defense and sitting down in the uncovered ground. They both have great hands and can create good separation in their routes on almost any defender.

The similarities even stretch into their run blocking. Neither tight end is necessarily good in the run game, but they both do good enough. With more experience in a system that will play him inline more, Asiasi has the size and willingness to become a good run-blocker. You can see similar tendencies in the run game.

The selection of Asiasi was not well-received by all people outside of New England. A lot of draft pundits considered it a reach. Inside New England, I think people see it for what it was. You’re getting a tight end who is ready to contribute in the passing game, specifically up the seam and in crossing routes, with the size to develop into a good run-blocker in the future. Asiasi will have the chance to develop in a system designed for success at tight end.

Patriot Comparison

  • Ben Watson
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 255 pounds

When I watch Ben Watson, who retired following the 2019 campaign, I see a refined version of what Asiasi is now. A specific example would be blocking in the running game. Asiasi uses his size and initial power to his advantage. Watson used good hand placement and footwork to make his blocks in a more technically sound way. If Asiasi can refine his skills, the sky’s the limit.

On the field, the main similarity between Watson and Asiasi is body control. They both are really good at maneuvering their bodies to make catches.

In terms of what Asiasi will be asked to do and what he’s best at doing, he has a good chance of having a similar career to Watson. A solid pass-catcher with tons of upside in his game.

A difference between their careers is Asiasi will most likely come in and be the No. 1 guy right away. That is something Watson, who played in one game as a rookie in 2004 before being placed on injured reserve, didn’t have to do. But being thrown into the fire right away can bring out the best and worst in a player. It will be up to Asiasi to decide how that shakes out.

That will do it for the second installment of Patriots rookie comparisons. Who does Devin Asiasi remind you of? Share down in the comments or on Twitter @KeaganStiefel.