After the Daniel Graham and Ben Watson experiments didn’t pan out, Bill Belichick went back to the drawing board last year. He brought in veteran Alge Crumpler, who emerged as a great run blocker and team leader. However, his best work came in the draft when he stole two first-round talents with second- and fourth-round picks.
Former Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski was a red-zone stud and played at a pro bowl level in the second half of the season.
And Aaron Hernandez, one of three Florida Gators selected in 2010, was a real matchup nightmare in the beginning of the season.
While I highly doubt the Pats address the tight end position in the draft, here are the top-five prospects in a weak tight end class:
1. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame: Often compared to Todd Heap, Rudolph would remind many of Gronkowski. At 6-foot-6, 259 pounds, he is a big matchup problem for safeties and is fast enough to outrun most linebackers. While he has medical red flags because of a torn hamstring, he could be a steal in the second round similar to Gronk. He was a big weapon for Jimmy Clausen in 2009, catching 33 passes in only nine games while adding 28 in six games in 2010.
2. Luke Stocker, Tennessee: While he won’t blow anyone away with his timed speed, Stocker is more of a do-it-all type of player who would be a solid player at the next level. He has good size (6-foot-5, 258 pounds) and strength (27 reps) to go along with average speed (4.71). He is a good run blocker and decent pass catcher, improving his catch total every year. He is probably a third- or early fourth-round pick.
3. D.J. Williams, Arkansas: Playing in the SEC, speed is the name of the game. Although he’s undersized at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, Williams is very athletic. He ran a 4.59 forty and compares to Hernandez and Dustin Keller as h-back types at the next level. He was extremely productive in the best conference in college football, finishing as the NCAA’s all-time leader in receptions (147) and receiving yards (1,817) by a tight end. He could come off the board in the third round.no comments