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So, we all know BB's love/hate thing with tight ends. Seems like we can never have too many and they can almost never be good enough/just right. I mean Graham did OK and Watson had his flashes, but he never became the type of threat many of us envisioned when they drafted him. And there's the whole influx/exodus thing last year.
So what do the scheme experts on the board think is up with the drafting of what some considered the two top TEs in the draft?
Do Gronk+Hernandez = Graham/Watson II? Or, to be more general, how will they (and Alge) be used?
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Hernandez has a different skill set from Gronk, but the main import of the two picks is insurance. Great if both pan out - and probably they consider it a good thing that in that unlikely eventuality, they could conceivably each have their own roles. But more than anything it signifies their belief that you don't know who will and won't pan out.
As the OP mentions, neither Graham nor Watson were considered good enough to keep around long-term.
What we can learn from this is neither of the #1 picks we spent on TE netted an indispensable TE, and that the TE has not been drafted who is deemed worth paying "real" money.
There is therefore no reason to believe that two lower-round TEs will be deemed keepers either.
It also demonstrates that you must always have a bunch of TE prospects around.
The pattern makes me think that BB believes you can very often get a good tight end in the draft. That means you will always be able to select that weapon in a later draft. If he ever ends up with the TE equivalent of Lawrence Taylor - and if he recognizes it - he'll keep him around. (Maybe. Depends if he gets a good enough offer.) If offensive weapons pan out elsewhere, and the TE can't be used as a huge offensive threat anyway, BB will unload the TE before he costs too much, and reload again.
I don't think he thought Grahambo and Watson were JAGs. I think they were JATEs, meaning you could come close to the same quality and that the need is not there for the difference between either of them and another "good enough" TE.
If we end up with a "production hole" at receiver during Gronk's/Hernandez' rookie deals, and one or both TEs make their cases without any question, they might sign contracts beyond their rookie deals. But my bet is if either is a Patriot in 2014, we've returned to the Caldwell-as-#1-receiver days.
Guys, I like everybody we draft, but I don't think you should learn the names of new Patriots' tight ends. It's easier on you that way psychologically.
Crumpler is a transitional TE, he's here to teach the youngsters. He's got a few receptions left in him, and he's developed into a pretty good blocker so he'll play a key role in the run game, but his primary job is to be the veteran leader the four younger Tight Ends will need.
Gronkowski is a classic BB Tight End, big enough to be a factor in-line for the run game, fast enough to pressure the Center of the field. He purportedly has pretty good hands, which once proven on the field will allow him to be a big target in the red zone and in the middle.
Hernandez is a heavyweight slot receiver. At 6'2 3/8" 245 he's an over-sized Wide Receiver - think Dallas Clark, but a bit more physical. Wes Welker's career avg/rec = 10.9; Hernandez = 12.5; meet the "real" new Wes Welker, Edelman is going to compete with him for time in the slot, and with the other WRs for #3. Remember NE going 4-wide with Edelman and Welker in the slot? Until Welker comes back Hernandez gets that job. Another role Hernandez might assume is the short yardage WR that Slater has been playing. Hernandez is reportedly a decent blocker at the second level with a willingness to hit people when his teammates have the ball in their hands. If Hernandez is split out in short yardage downs the question for the defense about blocker or receiver gets more urgent to answer.
Agnone was on the Practice Squad and was re-signed to the roster in January, he will compete with Gronkowski.
Myers was also on the Practice Squad and also re-signed, he will compete with Hernandez.
I hope the latter two accept the challenge and create an epic camp battle.
The underlying theme of the 2010 offense: improve run blocking with more power at TE, and replace Welker's production with multiple threats.
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The pattern makes me think that BB believes you can very often get a good tight end in the draft. That means you will always be able to select that weapon in a later draft. If he ever ends up with the TE equivalent of Lawrence Taylor - and if he recognizes it - he'll keep him around.
the main import of the two picks is insurance. Great if both pan out - and probably they consider it a good thing that in that unlikely eventuality, they could conceivably each have their own roles. But more than anything it signifies their belief that you don't know who will and won't pan out.
I don't see it that way at all. The Pats only had one NFL-quality TE on the roster. They spent a high pick on a massive 6'6" 264 player who, if healthy, is the best all-around TE prospect in at least the past 3 years. Then they nabbed a great value on a Dustin Keller-type -- 6'2" H-back/slot-receiver -- who slid due to marijuana use. Gronkowski & Hernandez strike me as totally complementary players, not insurance for one another.