The Pats selected tight end Aaron Hernandez with the 113th pick in the draft, giving them their third Gator of the weekend.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder caught 111 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns in three seasons at Florida. He had a great year in 2009, catching 68 passes for 850 yards and five touchdowns.
Hernandez — who won the 2009 John Mackey Award, which is given to college football’s best tight end — isn’t the biggest guy on the planet, but he’s really athletic, runs good routes and has great hands. He probably slipped a little bit due to the overall depth of talent in the draft, as well as a potential worry that he’ll have a tough time getting off blocks. Here’s thinking that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the speedy tight end.
Tight end might have been the Patriots’ thinnest position before the draft, as they entered the three-day event with only Alge Crumpler on the roster. They have done a fantastic job addressing that need in the draft, selecting Arizona’s Rob Gronkowski in the second round and Hernandez in the fourth. Belichick only carried two tight ends for much of 2009, but he’s had three on the roster in the past. They’ll complement each other wonderfully, as Crumpler is a blocker, Hernandez is a receiver and Gronkowski is a well-rounded combination of both.
It’s safe to assume Belichick was drinking his Gatorade this week. Three of the Patriots’ first six picks of the 2010 draft have hailed from Florida, as Belichick has really displayed his close relationship with that program and head coach Urban Meyer.
“I know they’re very close, and they’re very similar,” Hernandez said. “They’re both really strict and go by the rules, tough on the players. They both love to win, and they do win. It’s an honor to play for another great coach and a tough one.”
“It’s a dream come true. I’m from Connecticut. I grew up a Drew Bledsoe fan. My goal was to play for the Patriots. It’s a dream come true, and I still can’t believe it’s real.”
–Hernandez, a native of Bristol, Conn., on his initial impressions of being drafted by the Patriots.