Patriots

Patriots OC Josh McDaniels: 'There will never be another' Rob Gronkowski

Patriots OC Josh McDaniels: 'There will never be another' Rob Gronkowski

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the most unique players in NFL history.

He had an amazing blend of strength, size, quickness and raw football talent that made him almost unstoppable at the peak of his powers. No other player in the league created more matchup nightmares than Gronk. You couldn't cover him with a linebacker because he was too fast. You couldn't cover him with just a safety because he was too strong.

Many people believe now that Gronkowski has announced his retirement from the NFL, we might never see a player like him ever again.

You can include Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in that group. He released the following statement Monday on Gronkowski's retirement.

“I consider myself lucky to have had the pleasure of coaching Rob Gronkowski. From the day I met him, he has been authentic, real and genuine. His love for life made every day more fun for the people around him. He was the ideal football player - tough, smart, competitive and always played his best under pressure.

“You always felt you had a chance to win with Rob on the field; he had that kind of impact on the game. He is one of the very few players who could control the game offensively in the pass and run game, and he thoroughly enjoyed being great in both areas. His positive attitude, incredible energy and pure selflessness made him an absolute joy and pleasure to coach.

“We will miss his contributions to our offense on the field, but maybe more importantly, he will be impossible to replace as a teammate. I have immense respect for the sacrifices he made to help us accomplish our goals as a team, and I am happy that he can walk away on his terms today. There will never be another Gronk.”

McDaniels' next challenge is figuring out a way to keep the Patriots offense among the highest-scoring units in the league without the presence of Gronkowski. The Patriots don't have much talent or depth at tight end right now, but that likely will change after next month's 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville. 

Click to read all of Gronk's NFL records>>>

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Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

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Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

If anyone could provide insight into what Bill Belichick and the Patriots might be thinking on the eve of the NFL draft, it's Michael Lombardi. The former Pats staffer and Belichick confidant once dubbed "one of the smartest people I know" by the coach.

Lombardi joined Phil Perry this week on "The Next Pats Podcast" to look ahead to a draft he doesn't seem enamored with - particularly at quarterback for those thinking the heir to Tom Brady might be selected this weekend.

Lombardi was on Belichick's staff the last time that attempt was made - when Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in 2014.

"Tom has defeated Father Time," Lombardi told Perry. "When we drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, did anybody think Tom would last another five years?  Anybody who said yes, other than Tom, probably wasn't telling the truth. Tom's just remarkable..."

As for this draft class of QBs, Lombardi said: "I'm not sure there's a quarterback in this draft, [rumored No. 1 pick Kyler] Murray included, who doesn't have some kind of fault in them...I have a hard time looking at this draft and saying [of the QBs] this guy's a Day 1 starter or a Pro Bowl player. "

Lombardi echoed Belichick's comments at the coach's pre-draft meeting with the media about the difficulty involved in evaluating college passers because of the level of competition they're coming from.

"Nobody ever talks about the level of competition and that's really the challenge of evaluating college players," Lombardi said. "When you watch pro players it's easy because they're going against other pro players."

And what might the Pats be looking for tomorrow night with pick No. 32? Lombardi sees them leaning toward defense.

"I think the thing about the Patriots is they realize that they've got to get a good player at 32," he told Perry. "If it's a corner that they like, that can come in and play a role for them this year, I think they could pick the corner. If there happened to be a linebacker or a defensive end that could rush, they can do that. It's going to be what the player's skill set is, what he could do this year and what impact he could utilize within there. You know there's always the chance he [Belichick] could trade down for more second-round picks."

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Julian Edelman recruits Zion Williamson to be new Patriots tight end

Julian Edelman recruits Zion Williamson to be new Patriots tight end

Zion Williamson in all likelihood will be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but Julian Edelman still made his best pitch for the Duke standout to join the Patriots instead.

Edelman tweeted out a photoshopped image of Williamson holding up a Patriots jersey with Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and he let the 6-foot-10 18-year-old know about the Pats' open tight end position.

Edelman isn't the only Patriot recruiting athletes from other sports to take Rob Gronkowski's place at tight end. Tom Brady did the same Tuesday night with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.

As for how the Patriots are realistically filling Gronk's void, they signed both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse in free agency. They also could look to add more depth at the position via the NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday.

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