Personally, when I started writing about different positional battles¬†occurring¬†on the Patriots’ roster, I didn’t think that I would be talking about the Tight End (TE) position. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are both locks and, after NFL Scouts sung his praises as the best blocking TE in the draft and Alge Crumpler’s¬†release, I fully expected Lee Smith to be our guy!
Enter Will Yeatman.
Will Yeatman entered the team as somewhat of a nobody. He spent the first half college years at Notre Dame, playing both Lacrosse and Football in his Freshman year. He didn’t record a single reception that year. His second season, he solely played Football, starting his first three games at TE. However, after a drunken confrontation with police in which he not only resisted arrest but misinformed them, he was suspended for the rest of the season. He transferred to Maryland where he played Lacrosse his first year, and Football in his senior year; he played 11 games that season, recording 3 Special Team tackles and catching 13 balls for 134 yards.
I know what you’re thinking; not another Bill Belichick project right? It seems logical to opt for fellow Rookie Lee Smith. However, his record isn’t¬†exactly¬†squeaky clean either! Originally committing to the¬†University¬†of Tennessee, he was dismissed by his Head Coach after being charged with DUI and was forced to share the load at Marshall University with Cody Slate, now a Kansas City Chief. In his senior year however, he set career highs in receptions,¬†yards¬†and touchdowns before being invited to the Senior Bowl and being named to the Conference USA All-Academic team. Slater stole most of the limelight on the team though and was projected to be one of the best TE prospects in the draft until he tore his ACL.
Still, logically you would assume Lee Smith is the far better option, so lets¬†look¬†at their numbers! Yeatman is 6′ 5″ and 268 lbs whilst Smith comes in at 6’6″ and 269. Both weigh in heavier than Gronkowski and would be¬†primary¬†used in Crumpler’s role during the 2010 season and Lee¬†Smith¬†came in as the favorite. Now however, Will Yeatman is finding himself¬†with¬†he majority of the reps with the first team unit and appears to be performing better on the field of play. Very little¬†separates¬†them!
So who do you go with?
Right now my bet is on Yeatman; considering how his College career went, I’m surprised he’s even¬†competitive! He is competing however and he is slightly taller, heavier and is performing vastly better than Smith when it comes to implementing his craft on the gridiron. However, as you can see from their college records and intangibles, very little¬†separates¬†either of the two. So don’t be surprised that, with either player stepping out of line or putting on a poor performance, if the two trade spots yet again!
Final prediction from me? I would go Gronkowski, Hernandez and Yeatman. He may seem the most troublesome, but we all know that Bill has¬†turned¬†many a player on to the straight and narrow and personally, you go¬†with¬†the hot hand. Right now that’s him. However, keep an eye out for my ‘Predicting the Patriot’s Final 53 – Version 2.0′ to see if my position changes after Week 3 against Detroit!
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