Patriots

Presented By DraftKings
Patriots

After witnessing the New England Patriots' offensive struggles without Rob Gronkowski in 2019, there's no doubt they have a glaring need at tight end.

That isn't to say there are any Gronks out there to acquire -- they don't grow on trees -- but an upgrade certainly is in order following an abysmal output from the Matt LaCosse/Ryan Izzo/Benjamin Watson trio.

The question is, are there really any major upgrades out there? All of the top free-agent tight ends are off the board, so the Patriots may have to look to the draft. And unless the Patriots can snag one of the top few options, they're probably out of luck as the position isn't all that deep this year.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Nevertheless, here are the top five tight ends in the 2020 NFL Draft class.

1. Cole Kmet

College: Notre Dame
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 43 receptions, 515 yards, six touchdowns

Kmet is likely to be the first tight end taken following a successful junior season and an impressive combine showing in which he ran a 4.7 40-yard dash. He became a vital part of Notre Dame's passing game in 2019 following a modest offensive output his sophomore year. At 6-foot-6, 262 pounds, Kmet certainly has the size to succeed in the NFL and should be a starter out the gate.

The Patriots might need to make a draft trade to get into position to draft Kmet, a scenario Phil Perry predicted in his most recent 2020 NFL Mock Draft.

 

Projected Round: Third

2. Adam Trautman

College: Dayton
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 70 receptions, 916 yards, 14 touchdowns

Sure, it was against lesser competition, but Trautman was flat-out dominant in 2019 for the Dayton Flyers. Like Kmet, Trautman is a big target (6-5, 255) who had an impressive combine performance. If it isn't Kmet first off the tight end board, it'll be Trautman.

NBC Sports Boston's own Phil Perry had the Patriots picking Trautman in his seven-round mock draft 1.0:

Trautman (6-5, 255) has some wiggle to him for a big man and posted a ridiculous 6.78 three-cone drill to accompany a strong 34.5-inch vertical at the combine. He's a quarterback-turned-tight-end who dominated FCS competition with the Flyers as a receiver and a blocker. (Though the latter is where he needs polish.) Then he went to the Senior Bowl, saw some of the best players in the country, and acquitted himself well in both areas.

Projected Round: Third

3. Brycen Hopkins

College: Purdue
Class: Redshirt Senior
2019 stats: 61 receptions, 830 yards, seven touchdowns

Hopkins needs to improve in the blocking game, but he should succeed in the NFL as a vertical threat with his speed (4.66 in the 40). The 6-4, 245-pounder is a raw talent -- he didn't play football until high school -- but still enters the 2020 draft as one of the top players available at the position. Drops are an area of concern.

Projected Round: Third or Fourth

4. Hunter Bryant

College: Washington
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 52 receptions, 825 yards, three touchdowns

Bryant was stellar in the passing game with Washington in 2019, particularly with his run-after-catch ability. Although he does have a history of knee injuries and is a bit undersized (6-2, 248), Bryant is still talented enough to be one of the first few tight ends off the board this year.

Projected Round: Third or Fourth

5. Thaddeus Moss

College: LSU
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 47 receptions, 570 yards, four touchdowns

Like father, like son. NFL legend Randy Moss' son Thaddeus has impressive hands that will make him a coveted tight end in this draft. Moss didn't work out at the combine due to a foot injury, but that shouldn't hurt his draft stock too much. He's clearly one of the top pass-catchers in this group.

Projected Round: Third or Fourth