Patriots draft positional preview: Tight end
NFL Draft Positional Review: Tight End
By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider
The Patriots have been neutered at the top of the 2016 NFL Draft, but they aren’t wholly impotent with 11 total picks . . . including four in the first 100 picks. Enjoy this Patriot-centric look at the team’s positional status, the best available players at each position and which direction the Patriots may be inclined to go when they are on the clock.
Tight End Need Level: 6
Hunter Henry, Arkansas, 6-5, 250 pounds
Smooth, tremendously sure-handed athlete who can challenge the secondary and get separation on linebackers. Caught 51 of the 73 balls sent his way good for 754 yards. A teammate of Derby’s at Arkansas, he figures to be the first tight end off the board and should be an early contributor wherever he goes.
Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky, 6-6, 249 pounds
Fast, elusive after the catch and can play on the end of the line or split out. Went to Western Kentucky as a wideout. Caught 38 of the 48 passes he saw for 562 yards and eight touchdowns. Certainly a Patriots-type player until he made his life more complicated by getting arrested for assault, public intoxication and fleeing police on April 9. Obviously, more vetting of that situation -- and Higbee in general -- will have to be performed.
Jerrell Adams, South Carolina, 6-5, 247 pounds
Good blocker who can get down the field and does a nice job adjusting to the ball, although he has somewhat suspect hands. Very athletic and can run through contact. Compared to Ben Watson by PFF in terms of blocking ability and athletic skill.
Thomas Duarte, UCLA, 6-2, 231 pounds
Has great position flexibility but hasn’t really been featured much as an end-of-the-line tight end and is a projection in that capacity. Good downfield receiver with enough speed to get on top of safeties. Quick out of his breaks but needs some polishing overall and there’s some projection as to how he’ll adjust in a more conventional pro-style offense.
Jake McGee, Florida, 6-5, 250 pounds
Good size and another smooth athlete who didn’t put up much in the way of numbers with the Gators (41 catches for 381 yards and four touchdowns). Not a good blocker; PFF decribed him as “awful.”
Austin Hooper, Stanford, 6-4, 254 pounds
Both quick and fast with excellent body control and the ability to move around to the slot or outside. Will have some polishing to do as a blocker but may be limited if asked to do too much blocking early on. If the Patriots are scared off by Higbee’s incident, Hooper seems the most similar in terms of being a purely pass-catching complement.
Henry Krieger Coble, Iowa, 6-3, 249 pounds
Smart route-runner with good hands but not very elusive. Will need to become a stronger blocker.