Patriots

Did 2019 NFL Draft prospect send message to Patriots after Rob Gronkowski retirement?

Did 2019 NFL Draft prospect send message to Patriots after Rob Gronkowski retirement?

The New England Patriots currently have a massive hole at tight end after Rob Gronkowski decided to retire from the NFL on Sunday.

The Patriots' top two tight ends from last season, Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen (released before free agency), are gone. The question now is how will the Patriots add enough talent and depth at this position going into the 2019 campaign.

Next month's 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville seems like the best place to start, and one of the top tight end prospects in this year's class, Alabama's Irv Smith Jr., hinted at a potential spot on the Patriots with the following tweet from Sunday night.

Who wouldn't want to catch passes from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?

Smith has been projected as a late first-round pick and someone who could be of interest to the Patriots at No. 32 overall. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick attended Alabama's pro day last week, which is where the photo in the tweet above comes from.

Smith tallied 44 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior for the Crimson Tide last season.

Click for a Patriots mock draft roundup>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Top NFL Draft tight end prospect Hunter Bryant praises 'GOAT' Tom Brady

Top NFL Draft tight end prospect Hunter Bryant praises 'GOAT' Tom Brady

The New England Patriots need to upgrade their talent and depth at tight end before the 2020 season, and a good place to address this roster weakness is in the NFL Draft.

The 2020 class of tight ends isn't as deep as the group of wide receivers available, but there are still a few really exciting tight end prospects for teams to draft in the first couple of rounds. One of those players is Washington Huskies star Hunter Bryant, who Pro Football Focus ranked as the top tight end in this draft.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

He also was among the players to speak Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. When asked which quarterback in league history would he most want to catch a touchdown pass from, Bryant chose the only six-time Super Bowl champion. 

"Any quarterback in history? Probably Tom Brady, because he's the GOAT," Bryant told reporters, as transcribed by 247Sports. "He's the best that's ever done it. He's a great competitor, and I like how knowledgable he is in the game. So I have a lot of respect for him."

Bryant also told reporters he had an informal meeting with a Patriots scout.

Who knows, maybe Bryant will get an opportunity to catch passes from Brady next season? The Patriots are projected to have 12 picks (including compensatory selections) in April's draft, and tight is among the team's primary needs after getting lackluster offensive production at the position last season. 

Bryant isn't likely to be a first-round pick, but it's hard to imagine he lasts too long on Day 2 when the second and third rounds unfold. 

He set career highs with 52 receptions, 825 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns for Washington in 2019. Bryant tallied at least five receptions and 80-plus receiving yards in each of the last four games he played for the Huskies. 

Perry: Will Patriots opt for mobile QB if Brady leaves?

Thaddeus Moss dreams of catching touchdown passes from Tom Brady just like his father did

Thaddeus Moss dreams of catching touchdown passes from Tom Brady just like his father did

Would the New England Patriots consider drafting Randy Moss' son Thaddeus in the upcoming NFL Draft in April? It's possible.

The younger Moss, who helped Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers to a college football title this past season, could address a glaring need at tight end for the Patriots. New England gave Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo a shot last season after Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement, but none really gained the trust of quarterback Tom Brady.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The 21-year-old was just nine when his father joined the Patriots in 2007 via a trade that sent a fourth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders, and he'll never forget the memories he made while watching his father take the field at Gillette Stadium.

“I don’t know if I’d say [I have] relationships with anybody," Moss said, according to WEEI's Andy Hart. "I’ve talked to Coach [Bill] Belichick before. I’ve talked to Coach [Robert] Kraft [Patriots owner] before. Probably my most fond memories is the undefeated season that they had, obviously they didn’t finish it the way they wanted to. That and on top of that I was in the facility once or twice before. Meeting Tom Brady when I was younger. I was sitting there star struck. Walking down the hallway seeing Tedy Bruschi, seeing Coach [Mike] Vrabel walk down the hallway when I was younger. Those are probably the most fond memories that I have.”

Moss, who was a sophomore last season, put together a solid year for the Tigers in 2019 with 47 receptions for 570 yards and four touchdowns. He was even more impressive in the national championship game against Clemson, adding five receptions for 36 yards and two touchdowns while his father cheered him on from the stands.

The younger Moss could go from one championship title-winning quarterback to another if the Patriots were to draft him, and he admitted that catching touchdown passes from Brady, like his father before him, would be incredible.

“It would mean a lot,” Moss said of the possibility to catch passes from Brady. “Just to catch a touchdown pass period in the NFL would mean a lot. But to catch from Tom Brady knowing that he threw a good amount of touchdown passes to my father, it would be a good story.”