Two years into his NFL career, former third-round draft pick Devin Asiasi has had a limited impact on the New England Patriots offense. Appearing in 10 games, the tight end has caught just two passes for 39 yards and a touchdown on a mere 225 offensive snaps.
Nonetheless, Asiasi’s stock appears to be on the rise this summer. Teammates and coaches alike have gone on the record to speak about the growth he has shown in Year 3.
“Devin’s made a lot of improvement,” said head coach Bill Belichick on Tuesday. “He’s made a good jump this year, as well. He’s put in a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and I think that’s been reflected in what we’ve seen in the offseason program, and spring practice, and so far in training camp.
“Physically, looks good. Mentally, the experience that he’s gained and confidence he’s gained — you can see that. We’ll see how it goes as we get into competitive situations and a little more padded practices, we’ll see how all that comes together. He’s tracking well.”
Asiasi joined the Patriots as the 91st overall selection in the 2020 draft, but struggled with injuries in his first year with the team. He was behind the eight ball again during his sophomore season, coming down with Covid-19 despite fully vaccinated and seeing the team make some major investments in free agents Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
As a result of those, Asiasi played all but 12 offensive snaps throughout 2021; he appeared in one game and did not touch the ball. Now entering his third year in the system, however, he is full-go and making the most out of it.
On Tuesday, for example, he caught all three of the passes thrown his way in team drills. While still behind Henry and Smith on the depth chart, he is establishing himself as TE3 and a player still capable of contributing to the New England offense in some capacity.
“I think everybody wants to be on the field, everybody wants to play,” Asiasi told reporters about his 2021 season stuck behind Henry and Smith. “At the same time, I just took it as an experience that I could take and just get knowledge from those guys. …
“The tricks of the trade they can pass down to me help me.”
This year, Asiasi’s focus is on improving as a route runner. He mentioned more efficient movements while going through his patterns and making his route stems look the same as two concrete examples. While it remains to be seen how successful he will really be once the team enters preseason, the early returns have been promising.
Just ask safety Adrian Phillips, who has seen regular action covering tight ends since joining the Patriots the same year as Asiasi. He noted his savviness as a route runner, and also pointed out that he has seen some growth out of the soon-to-be 25-year-old as well.
“Coming in as a rookie, people expect a lot from you. Being a third-rounder, they expect to see a whole bunch of things,” Phillips said about his young teammate. “He just kept his head down each and every day, and he’s continued to get better and better. ...
“Competing against him every day, you can tell that he’s learning from guys like Hunter [Henry] and Jonnu [Smith], and he’s getting a lot more savvy with his routes. And it’s making him a tough cover.”