When the Patriots drafted TE Rob Gronkowski 42nd overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, one thing was immediately evident: Gronkowski has energy to spare, loves football, and loved being drafted by the New England Patriots. His excitement, energy and enthusiasm at the draft was enough to get most Patriots fans excited as well, even if they knew little about the tight end from Arizona. He didn’t play football last year due to a back injury, so he certainly had question marks entering the draft. That back injury likely was the reason Gronkowski wasn’t drafted in the first round and slipped down to 42 overall. Any question marks surrounding the rookie are well on their way to being answered, as he has given Patriots fans a reason to believe in their tight ends once again.
There hasn’t been a tight end in New England that has shown as much promise and talent that Gronkowski has since Ben Coates, who was the last TE to wear #87. Coates was a big TE, standing 6’5″ and weighing 245 lbs. One of the first things Pats fans who attended training camp noticed was a new, large player roaming the practice fields. That was Gronkowski, who stands 6’6″ and weighs 265 lbs. He’s hard to miss, and he has been making plays both on the practice field and on the playing field. Through the first 3 preseason games, Gronk has caught 7 passes for 104 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s able to use his large frame to out-jump, out-reach, and out-play defenders for the football. He’s also shown the ability to block, which Tom Brady may appreciate just as much as his pass-catching ability. Both the Boston Herald and ESPNBoston have had feature pieces the past week on the rookie.
Whether he can continue his preseason momentum into the regular season remains to be seen. Though he has drawn comparisons to Ben Coates, he has a long way to go to come close to the Patriots Hall-of-Famer’s career. One thing we do know is that he’s going to give 100% every play, and he has the potential to become an effective new toy for Brady. I have a feeling that plays like we saw last week, where Gronk was dragging Ram’s LB James Laurinaitis to the end zone, is just the beginning. To see video of that play and other Rob Gronkowski highlights, including an interesting NFL Combine piece, click here.