Despite what some people who are unfamiliar with the New England Patriots roster will tell you, the Pats are still loaded with depth at the tight end position. So much so, that we are bound to see one tough cut if Rob Gronkowski is not placed on the PUP list. With the Patriots moving to a three-wide offense instead of a twin-TE offense, this depth at tight end will likely become even more of a luxury. One of things that gets lost in the shuffle regarding the Patriots tight ends is how talented they are as run blockers, as Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells were too of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL last season. Gronkowski? Well, he’s been the best blocking tight end for a two years running.
Of the TEs, Zach Sudfeld is the young gun of the bunch, and he was put on sleeper watch in OTAs and minicamp after showing off smooth pass-catching ability and good hands. On Tuesday, Sudfeld caught a one-handed beauty, and he continues to impress here in minicamp. The quickest of the tight ends on the field, Sudfeld’s youth and quickness will likely earn him a roster spot above Fells if Gronkowski is not placed on the PUP. I am a notorious fan of Fells, because he is an exceptional blocker who is proving that he has better-than-you-think hands in camp, but Sudfeld brings something else to the table with that quickness. Although he hasn’t been showing off blocking ability in camp, he was a great two-way tight end at Nevada (though, he was still inconsistent at times as a blocker, but most pass-catching college TEs are).
ESPN Boston’s Field Yates and Mike Reiss teamed up for an excellent feature in which they ran down Patriots players they want to see more of in camp, and all of them were excellent choices (Marcus Benard is another sleeper). Reiss chose Zach Sudfeld, and he spoke about how Sudfeld has been impressing in camp, and he also added that Sudfeld as mostly shown “solid hands”.
The 6’7″, 260 pound TE is penciled in as my No. 4 tight end on the depth chart, and he is at least making the practice squad. A supremely talented player in college, health was the only question for Sudfeld, but it was enough of a question to cause him to go undrafted. He’s a potential pearl for the Patriots offense, and it’s great to hear that Sudfeld is still showing off the hands, speed, and overall talent at the position. And look at that frame. With some more strength, Sudfeld could be a high-impact, two-way TE in this league.