New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2010

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Jun 26, 2013; North Attleborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots former tight end Aaron Hernandez (left) stands with his attorney Michael Fee as he is arraigned in Attleboro District Court. Hernandez is charged with first degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. Mandatory Credit: The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

4th Round  #113 overall: tight end Aaron Hernandez

Taking a return trip to the University of Florida the Patriots made their third pick of the 2010 NFL Draft from the then Urban Meyer led squad in selecting the athletic tight end Hernandez. Hernandez had first round talent but had dropped due to allegedly failing multiple drug tests. Remember, it was Hernandez who was the the John Mackey Award winner as the best tight end in the country coming into the draft despite Jermaine Gresham, Gronkowski, Ed Dickson, Tony Moeaki and Jimmy Graham being picked ahead of him (and Dennis Pitta right behind him).


Hernandez came with warning flags, but his talent on the field was evident. By the end of the 2010 season, it was Hernandez as much as Gronkowski being lauded in the press as a future star at tight end. As a rookie, Hernandez finished with 45 receptions for 563 yards and 6 touchdowns; Gronkowski had 42 receptions for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, in 2011 Gronkowski exploded into superstardom while Hernandez was held back by injuries. Injuries again slowed Hernandez in 2012 limiting him to just 10 games and under 500 yards receiving.


Then came June 2013. Hernandez was arrested on June 26th for murder and later that day is released by the Patriots. After three stellar seasons in New England, Hernandez–who fell to the fourth round due to character concerns–sits in jail and now is in the middle of the court case that will decide his fate going forward.



It could be argued that having three quality seasons from Hernandez tops five mediocre seasons from whoever else was around. By the middle of the fourth round there were few impact players left. Dennis Pitta (Baltimore #114 overall) has been good, but never approached numbers like Hernandez produced and has been slowed by injuries the past two years. Tight end Garrett Graham was taken at #118 overall by Houston and has never been looked on as a special talent like Hernandez was in New England.


There were two impact players after Hernandez: defensive tackle Geno Atkins by Cincinnati in the fourth round at #120 overall and safety Kam Chancellor by Seattle at #133 in the fifth round. The fourth round is full of players like Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (Dallas #126) and E.J. Wilson (Seattle #127) and others who never made an impact in the NFL. Atkins or Chancellor would have been great, but the third best player taken in that area was still Hernandez despite his being in jail the last year and a half.



From the 2010 season until June of 2013 Hernandez appeared to be another draft gem by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Had he been injured outside the game and never played again, he would still have been an excellent draft pick. New England received the production of second or third best tight end in the draft from the fourth round.


Next: Round Five