The New England Patriots’ roster had some noticeable holes heading into the NFL draft, and they took steps in the right direction to fill most of them over the three days in Nashville.
The Patriots used their top pick to tackle their most pressing need when they drafted N’Keal Harry at No. 32 overall. From there, New England bolstered its secondary, defensive line and offensive line depth and even drafted Tom Brady’s potential successor in the fourth round.
There was one position the Patriots surprisingly didn’t address during the draft, though.
None of New England’s 10 picks were used on a tight end, an area of great uncertainty for the Patriots in wake of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement. New England did sign Andrew Beck as an undrafted free agent, but the Texas product is known much more for his blocking than pass catching. As such, the state of the tight end depth chart is ESPN’s biggest post-draft question for the Patriots.
“Did the Patriots do enough at TE as they enter the post-Gronk era? This was viewed by some as a deep tight end class, but the Patriots didn’t select a player at the position,” Mike Reiss writes. “That leaves Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo on the depth chart, which means someone under the radar will have to emerge unless the team has another personnel move in mind (e.g., trade for Kyle Rudolph or lure Benjamin Watson out of retirement). Izzo was a 2018 seventh-round draft choice from Florida State who flashed last training camp and thus could be someone to watch after spending his rookie season on injured reserve.”
Potential moves to acquire Rudolph or Watson are something to keep an eye on. The Minnesota Vikings could be looking to move on from Rudolph, who’s set to earn a $7.275 million salary in the upcoming season. The 29-year-old has shown no real signs of decline, but Minnesota used a second-round pick on Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. Watson is well past his prime at 38, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently noted he wouldn’t be surprised if the former Patriot unretires and rejoins the franchise that drafted him 15 years ago.
Tight end has been a critical aspect of New England’s offense throughout the Bill Belichick era. With this in mind, one has to imagine the Patriots coach has something up his sleeve that will put his team in better standing at the position.