With Rob Gronkowski’s future unclear and lacking depth at tight end, Bill Belichick may look to the 2018 NFL draft for answers. According to reports, the Patriots have been one of the most active teams in scouting tight ends. Let’s take a look at the top prospects in this draft class.
Mark Gesicki (Penn State)
Gesicki is an incredible athlete who was an All-American in high school, and one of the most coveted tight ends of his recruiting class. He chose to go to Penn State, where he played in thirteen games as a freshmen. His best season came this year where he posted 48 receptions, 679 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Gesicki is considered to be one of the best pass-catching tight ends in this draft class. He has great body control and is able to win at all levels of the field. Gesicki is another one of those “basketball” tight ends, who has great size and jumping ability. However, his best asset might be his incredible hands, the tight end does not have a dropped pass in the last two seasons. Gesicki is expected to be drafted in rounds 1-2.
2. Mark Andrews (Oklahoma)
Andrews is another top tight end in this draft class. He was a red shirt freshman who broke out with Second Team All-Big 12 honors. Andrews also received first team honors his junior season. In his final collegiate season, Andrews compiled 62 receptions for 958 yards and 8 touchdowns. This season, Andrews was asked to do more in the passing game and he delivered. The tight end has great body control and is able to “box out” smaller defensive backs at the top of his routes. He can be used as a security blanket for a quarterback due to his great footwork and athleticism. Andrews is projected to be drafted in rounds 3-4.
3. Dallas Goedert (S. Dakota State “Missouri Valley”)
Dallas Goedert was not a household name until he began to fly up NFL draft boards. This Walter Peyton Award finalist (2016) amassed several All-American awards and first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors. He placed in the top 15 in the country with 92 recpetions, 1,293 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Goedert has the ability to win at all three levels of the field due to his above average size, speed, and athleticism. He is another “basketball” tight end who knows how to use his large frame to “box out” smaller defenders. Unlike the other tight ends mentioned, Goedert can also be used as an inline blocker. Goedert is expected to be drafted in rounds 1-2.
4. Hayden Hurst (S. Carolina)
Hayden Hurst is an all around athletic freak. Hurst was drafted by the Pirates in 2014. As a football player Hurst walked on to the Gamecocks and played 12 games as both a receiver and a tight end. He had a breakout year in 2016 posting 48 receptions for 616 yards. The following season he was honored with First Team All SEC honors with his 44 reception 559 yard and two touchdown effort that year. He is another tight end prospect that can win at all three levels. Hurst has above average size and speed that allows him to beat defenders with not only size, but also elusiveness. He also does not mind contact, he will make the extra effort to gain more yards.
Coach Belichick values depth above all else. As it currently stands there is no depth when it comes to a pass catching tight end. Dwyane Allen was a very good blocker last season, but did not add much in the passing game. With two picks in the second round and the option of trading back in the first, Bill Belichick as plenty of options and way to acquire sufficient depth at tight end.