Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday, we looked at No. 88 Scott Chandler, and a few days before that it was No. 90 Zach Moore. Because today marks 87 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 87, Rob Gronkowski.
In addition to being one of the most fun-loving personalities in sports, Gronkowski is simply the NFL’s best tight end. The Patriots’ Super Bowl chances will always be very good when they have a healthy Gronk in the lineup.
Snagged by the Pats early in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Gronkowski foreshadowed his future dominance as a rookie by pulling in 10 touchdowns on only 42 receptions. In his historic 2011 campaign, Gronkowski set new single-season tight end records for yards (1,327) and touchdowns (17). There has never been a more dominant tight end in his first five seasons than Gronkowski.
After a slow start to 2014 because of the ACL he tore against the Cleveland Browns in 2013, Gronkowski exploded against the Chicago Bears in Week 8. That 9-catch, 149-yard, three-touchdown performance probably still keeps Bears’ safety Major Wright awake at night.
Gronkowski didn’t slow down in January and February, totaling 204 yards and trio of touchdowns on 16 postseason receptions.
Expect the introduction of the veteran Chandler to the aerial attack to benefit Gronkowski enormously this season. At 6-foot-7, Chandler actually stands above Gronkowski, meaning that opposing defenses will have to account for two receiving giants in the middle of the field. Any and all success that Chandler has will translate into good things for Gronkowski, as well.
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Sure enough, the compatibility and success of Gronkowski and Chandler in two-tight end sets was on full display throughout OTAs this spring.
54 spikes into his career, Gronkowski is inching closer and closer to the Hall of Fame.
If you say you’re Gronkowski’s biggest fan, then you better put your money where your mouth is. This upcoming February, you can join Gronk on a party cruise ship to the Bahamas.
Check back on Musket Fire tomorrow morning as we celebrate 86 days until Patriots kick-off by profiling No. 86, rookie tight end A.J. Derby.