Tight end is easily the biggest question mark the team has now that Gronk has officially retired. They’ve been left with a hole that is pretty much irreplaceable once the greatest tight end to play the game leaves. He was not only dominant in the passing game and as a run blocker, and that is something you almost never get in this day and age. They will be lucky if they can find two players that can do the same thing he was capable of.
On the Roster:
Jacob Hollister – Hollister is the longest tenured tight end left on the roster. I would go as far as to say he has more injury problems than Gronk through this point in his career. He was only able to play in 8 games last season, and he has had 8 catches over his first 2 NFL seasons. He is more of an undersized tight end compared to others at the position in this era, but is a very viable option as a receiver.
Ryan Izzo – Izzo is the type of tight end that could fill Gronks blocking role, or at least Dwayne Allen’s. Izzo was a rookie last season and spent the entire season on injured reserve. Entering his second season he has a big opportunity to fill a need on this roster. He is also very capable as a receiver, but was known mostly for his blocking ability at Florida State.
Stephen Anderson – Anderson was signed to the practice squad near the end of last season. He was a solid receiving tight end for the Texans the past two years beforehand. He did not get much of an opportunity but Houston was a team with a lack of talent at tight end and he took advantage once he got the chance. He is a faster and athletic type of tight end and could end up a big surprise in the receiving game for the Pats this season.
Matt LaCosse – LaCosse was just signed in free agency a few weeks ago. He has just as much of a chance as these guys, but a very small sample size. In Denver last season he filled in a position that had a huge injury problem. He was serviceable, but who knows what he might actually bring to the table.
Free Agency: This isn’t really worth breaking down all that much. The only options really left are Jermaine Gresham and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Gresham has not had much left in him and ASJ is full of off field issues. If they were going to address the issue via free agency they just should have done it earlier.
Draft – There are a few good options through the draft. It seems like TJ Hockenson is going to be the top draft pick, so unless they are able to move up they won’t get him. Even his teammate Noah Fant might go to early, and he is a prospect I have really liked. He is a big framed tight end that has great ability and range to catch the ball, and might be worth moving up for. If they wait until their 32nd pick, Irv Smith Jr. from Alabama might still be available. He is a little on the smaller side when it comes to tight ends but he has great athletic ability and could be the difference maker they need in the passing game.
-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)