The New England Patriots acknowledged their glaring need at tight end by trading up twice and doubling up at the position in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Patriots traded two fourth-round picks and a future sixth-rounder to the New York Jets for the 101st overall pick to draft Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene. The Patriots drafted UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi 10 picks earlier.
The Patriots now have a fifth-round pick, four sixth-rounders and a seventh on Day 3 of the draft.
NESN.com has been all over Keene in the last month. He’s our top athletic fit for the Patriots at tight end. He’s 6-foot-4, 252 pounds and ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash with a 7.07-second 3-cone drill, 4.19-second short shuttle, 34-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 4-inch broad jump.
Keene lacked production at Virginia Tech but played a number of different roles in their offense ranging from running back to H-back and tight end. He was dangerous after the catch and competitive as a blocker. NESN.com compared him to George Kittle for his size, versatility, athleticism and lack of college production. Based on those traits, we wondered why he was viewed as a projected seventh-rounder. The Patriots clearly thought higher of him.
The Patriots added Keene to a tight end depth chart that only included Asiasi, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. Keene and Asiasi will compete for starting roles with LaCosse and Izzo in a wide-open position. Keene also could add versatility at fullback, H-back and possibly as a short-yardage runner.
He caught 21 passes for 240 yards with five touchdowns in 2019 to go along with 11 carries for 33 yards. He had 59 catches for 748 yards with eight touchdowns in his college career. Keene is also young for the 2020 NFL Draft class. He just turned 21 years old this month.
It will be fascinating to see how the tight end position will shake out in 2020 for the Patriots, but Keene certainly adds a jolt of excitement and athleticism to the position.