New England Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld looks poised to be the Patriots starting tight end if Rob Gronkowski ends up being placed on the PUP list, and I bet he will also maintain a significant role in the Pats offense even when Gronk comes back. Sudfeld has immense upside as a blocker, because he was a talented blocker at Nevada; he just needs to get things down in an NFL scheme. We all saw how fantastic Sudfeld was on Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the two-point conversion reception and TD catch being the standout plays. He has looked great throughout OTAs, minicamp, and training camp, and Sudfeld is a legit TE who simply fell through the cracks and went undrafted.
The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe believes that Zach Sudfeld has the ability to play the role that Aaron Hernandez held in the Patriots offense, and I completely agree that Sudfeld can be a good “move” tight end for the Pats and still be a key piece in that regard once Gronk comes back. Sudfeld is a versatile weapon, and he is a quick TE with excellent pass-catching ability. At Nevada in the Pistol spread, Sudfeld actually spent basically all of his time in the slot, so he is certainly comfortable with playing that kind of a role. Overall, I’m excited to see what Sudfeld can do for the Patriots next season, and he could very well end up being one of the league’s best tight ends in three years (if all goes well, of course).
The Patriots are currently lacking depth at guard, and the right guard position has been feeling the heat of two recent injuries. Dan Connolly is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, while Marcus Cannon has been out for some time now with an unknown injury. Both players should be healthy to start the regular season, and I expect Cannon to beat out Connolly for the starting RG job. Connolly is an average starter, but Cannon could be even better. It looks like his skills transition better to guard, and the Patriots are high on the progress Cannon has made heading into his third season in the league under the legendary Coach Scar.
The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin thinks that Will Svitek could be the Patriots starting right guard for Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, due to the fact that both Cannon and Connolly are injured. Based on how Svitek played at guard on Friday, I really hope that isn’t the case. He’s a solid swing tackle, but he clearly doesn’t look as good or as comfortable as guard. He has the versatility to play guard in emergency options, and this would certainly be an emergency option. Volin notes that Svitek led all offensive players in snaps against the Bucs and started both preseason games, and I believe that’s because the Pats want him to get more used to playing guard in the event that Cannon and Connolly aren’t healthy.
Let’s just hope that Cannon and Connolly are fine to start the season, because Svitek really struggled both as a run blocker and pass blocker at right guard on Friday.