Prototypical Patriots: Time to pick up some Gronk insurance?

Prototypical Patriots: Time to pick up some Gronk insurance?

The Patriots have a situation on their hands. 

Their future Hall of Fame tight end hasn't yet popped his head in on the start of the team's offseason training program, and after making almost $11 million on an incentive-laden deal last season, it would come as no surprise if he would like to see his $8 million base salary for 2018 get bumped up. He's supposedly contemplating retirement. 

Though Gronkowski is still at the top of his game, his waffling means it's time for the Patriots to consider re-investing at his position. Though the upcoming draft isn't loaded with surefire Day 1 tight end options, the Day 2 crop is loaded. That could be where Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio strike, hoping to land their next do-it-all threat. 

Before we get to some names, let's lay out what the Patriots like at this spot. They've drafted 13 tight ends under Belichick, and some trends have emerged. Size, obviously, is important. The "prototype" falls in the 6-foot-4 range and a shade over 250 pounds. Big hands (about 10 inches) are also preferred. Athleticism matters, too. Quick 40 times (4.7-second range) and three-cone drills (7.0-second range) will help a player find his way onto the Patriots roster, as will an explosive vertical (35 inches or thereabouts). 

The Patriots probably won't find another Gronkowski any time soon. But by those parameters, they'll find a solid athlete with requisite size to handle the myriad tasks they ask their tight ends to execute. 



Goedert didn't run the 40-yard dash at the combine or at his pro day, leaving teams to either have him run privately or . . . make their best guess as to how fast he is. The issue? He played a lower level of competition so while he looks like a dominant force on tape, some of those plays have to be taken with a grain of salt. Goedert's height, weight, hand size (10 inches) and arm length (34 inches) give him the makeup of a true dual-threat tight end in the Patriots system. And though we don't know his 40, his other testing numbers -- 35-inch vertical, 121-inch broad, 7.02-second three-cone -- indicate he's an explosive and agile athlete. Gronkowski was bigger (6-6, 264) and tested slightly below Goedert when it comes to those measures (7.18 three-cone, 33.5-inch vertical, 119-inch broad). They did the same number of bench reps at the combine (23). 


Gesicki's build gives him the look of a bigger receiver rather than a tight end capable of handling in-line blocking duties. The Patriots have taken players in the 245-pound range, but they've been more compact tight ends like Daniel Graham (6-3, 248), Garrett Mills (6-1, 241) and Aaron Hernandez (6-2, 245). Unless Gesicki can pack more weight onto his frame, he'd probably fall into the "move" tight end category. Wherever he ends up, his rare athleticism will help. Gesicki's 4.54-second 40 would be the second-fastest among tight ends drafted by Belichick in New England (Ben Watson had a 4.53). Gesicki had a blazing three-cone (6.76 seconds) as well, which was almost a tenth of a second faster than Hernandez's. Explosiveness? Gesicki has you covered there, too. His 129-inch broad and 41-.5-inch vertical break the mold on typical tight end thresholds. Gesicki's frame is a question mark when it comes to his Patriots fit, but he checks every other physical marker the Patriots typically draft, including hand size (10 1/8 inches) and arm length (34 inches).



Thomas hasn't received much hype leading up to the draft in part because he was injured last season and had just two years at Indiana. But physically he has it all: height, weight, length (34 1/8-inch arms) and hand size (11 1/2 inches). Athletically, he hits all Patriots marks and then some with a 4.74-second 40, a 36-inch vertical, 123-inch broad and a 4.20 short shuttle. His three-cone drill is a little slower than where they typically like (7.15 seconds), but it was still more than two tenths faster than Watson's. If the Patriots are willing to mold him into more of a technician when it comes to his blocking and route-running, he could end up as a true multi-purpose tight end in their system. 


Where to start here? When compared to some other tight ends Belichick drafted to New England, Hurst compares favorably. His 4.67-second 40-yard is a hair faster than Gronkowski's and a hair slower than Hernandez's. His 1.63-second 10-yard split was actually better than that of Hernandez (1.65) and 2006 third-rounder David Thomas (1.64). He showed some explosion in the broad jump (120 inches), recording a better distance than Graham (118), Thomas (109) and Hernandez (111), all of whom measured similarly at their respective combines. But Hurst's vertical (31 1/2 inches) and change-of-direction testing (7.19-second three-cone, 4.37 short shuttle) didn't wow anyone. He's also a little undersized in terms of what the Patriots typically draft (32 1/8-inch arms). He may be a first-round pick, but judging by Belichick's history, that might be a little early for the Patriots. 


Andrews is an interesting prospect because he has a good combination of size and speed (4.58-second 40). His change-of-direction and explosiveness, however, don't necessarily indicate he's an ideal Patriots fit. His 7.34-second three-cone drill won't help him, his 31-inch vertical was unimpressive, his broad jump (113 inches) was about average in terms of what the Patriots have drafted in the past, and his 4.38-second short-shuttle was not blazing. Those aren't crippling numbers. The Patriots have drafted worse athletes. But Andrews is expected to go in the first couple of rounds, which may be a little rich for Belichick.


Schultz is another long-but-light prospect at the position. And his athletic testing numbers don't necessarily match up with the number in the weight column. His 7.00-second three-cone is good, and his 120-inch broad jump indicates there's some explosion there. But his vert (32 inches), short-shuttle (4.40 seconds) and 40 time (4.75 seconds) are average or worse. For someone with his build, the Patriots might prefer to see a better athlete. His arm length (31 1/4 inches) and hand size (9 1/4 inches) aren't ideal, but he was a two-year starter in a pro-style offense and he's thought to be one of the best blockers at his position in the class. Those elements of Schultz's game may get the Patriots interested in the middle rounds. Wisconsin's Troy Fumagali is a similar player in terms of his willingness as a blocker and his size (6-5, 247). He might be a better fit athletically, but he hasn't been able to do any athletic testing during the pre-draft process because of injury. 


Smythe has the kind of experience as an in-line player that the Patriots would appreciate. And he comes from a program they respect. But when it comes to the measurables, Smythe profiles as a less athletic than a typical Patriots draft pick. Smythe's 40 time (4.81), vertical (31 inches), broad jump (110 inches), bench (18 reps), and three-cone (7.17 seconds) are all below average compared against other Patriots tight ends drafted since 2000. His hand size (9 1/4 inches) and arm length (31 3/4 inches) are also less than ideal. Smythe's tape may earn him a job on Day 3 of the draft, but his athleticism would put him on the outer edges of the range of player the Patriots have drafted in the past. 


Man, if you want a blocking tight end, this seems to be your draft. Dissly falls into the same category. And from a Patriots perspective, he looks the part of an in-line type. Athletically . . . that's another story. Dissly's vertical (28 inches), broad jump (111 inches), short-shuttle (4.4 seconds) and 40 time (4.87) aren't going to rocket him up draft boards. His three-cone is solid for someone his size (7.07 seconds), and his hands (9 3/4 inches) and arms (33 1/4 inches) meet the mark for the Patriots. Still, he's a Day 3 choice. 


Stephon Gilmore shares two items he always has when the Patriots are on the road

Stephon Gilmore shares two items he always has when the Patriots are on the road

Everybody has things they like to bring with them when they travel, and Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore is no different.

In an interview with before New England takes on the lowly Dolphins on the road, Gilmore shared the two items he always brings with him these trips: His son's toy truck and his daughter's bow. 

The All-Pro corner prefers to keep his kids in mind when he's away from home, and it's hard to argue with the results. Gilmore is easily one of the five best corners in the game, and leads a secondary that stifled the Steelers offense in Week 1. 

Miami might be the worst team in the league by a wide margin, but the Patriots have always had their fair share of issues beating the Dolphins on the road.

That probably won't make a difference on Sunday given the supreme difference in talent between these two teams, so it's a game where the Patriots can work on their execution and maybe get backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham his first pro reps if the game's completely out of hand. 

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.

Terry Bradshaw blasts Antonio Brown: 'I wouldn't throw to him'

Terry Bradshaw blasts Antonio Brown: 'I wouldn't throw to him'

Think Antonio Brown had problems with Ben Roethlisberger?

He should be thankful he wasn't around a generation earlier to play for another Steelers quarterback.

Pittsburgh Hall of Fame QB and FOX NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw didn't hold back on his disdain for Brown, who wore out his welcome after nine seasons with the Steelers and only a few weeks with the Oakland Raiders, only to wind up signing with the Patriots.

Brown broke most of the Steelers receiving records set by Bradshaw targets John Stallworth and Lynn Swann in the '70s and '80s, but in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Bradshaw sounded pleased Brown wasn't around in his day.

“I wouldn’t throw to him,” Bradshaw said. 

“Let New England have him,” he said. “Maybe he becomes [the late Reverend] Billy Graham, I don’t know. I seriously doubt it, seriously doubt it.

“I’m not pulling for him, I can promise you that.

“Winning football games is all about the team and all about players caring about one another and everybody pulling together, not pulling apart,” Bradshaw said, warning that the controversy that led to Brown's exits from the Steelers and Raiders will surface in New England. “You can’t have Antonio Brown for all the greatness that they are, do you want the baggage that goes with that crap? I wouldn’t."

Two days after signing with the Patriots, Brown was hit with a civil lawsuit from a former trainer who accuses him of sexual assault and rape. He traveled with the Pats to Miami and is expected to make his debut with New England Sunday against the Dolphins in Miami. 

“I cannot emphasize how I cannot stand and have a disdain totally for players like that,” Bradshaw said. “I don’t want any part of them. I wouldn’t like them. They would hate me if they were on our team. They would hate me because I wouldn’t throw to him.

“I will not put up with that kind of behavior. You don’t win with it. Why haven’t we [the Steelers] won more Super Bowls? There is talent, [but] it’s just guys like him. Let him go and his brand and whatever it is he’s doing.”

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.