The New England Patriots no longer have Aaron Hernandez and will probably be without Rob Gronkowski for the first six games of the regular season, but there should be no questions about the tight end position going forward with the amount of depth this team has. Jake Ballard isn’t a lock to make the roster and still has injury issues, but he will be a good TE if he can get past those injuries. It’s a big “if”, but there’s also plenty of reward. Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells are two very good blocking tight ends, and Hooman is an underrated pass-catcher with the ability to play the H-Back. And then there is Zach Sudfeld, who is a legitimate tight end with plenty of talent as a pass-catcher (he’s been terrific in training camp), and he can be a great blocker once he learns an NFL scheme (he was excellent blocking in Nevada’s Pistol offense).
Zach Sudfeld isn’t just a deep sleeper; he’s a UDFA tight end with a legitimate chance at starting for the Patriots if Gronkowski misses time. Patriots star right tackle Sebastian Vollmerhad this to say about Sudfeld on an appearance with Mut and Merloni, He hustles through it hard. He works hard, he tries to learn the system and he makes plays out there. That’s always a good thing. That’s what you need — people stepping up and doing their thing, trying to make their mark on the team and playing for spots.”
The fact that Vollmer chose to praise Sudfeld for his work ethic is interesting, because Sudfeld has been praised by just about everybody for off-the-charts work ethic, whether it be in high school, college, or in training camp. Sudfeld has been a standout this offseason during OTAs, and minicamp, and now training camp, and he has as good of a chance as anybody at starting for the Patriots in a wide-open TE competition. Sudfeld’s work ethic is what put him on the map as a walk-on with Nevada, and it is what propelled him past a severe injury and into the NFL. If all goes as planned, his work ethic will make him a very good blocking TE for the Patriots and potentially a great No. 2 TE behind Gronkowski in the future.