The New England Patriots didn’t know the type of player Rob Gronkowski would amount to when they drafted him in the second round of 2010.
When the New England Patriots drafted Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, they didn’t know the caliber of player he would amount to be. But after nine seasons with the Patriots, Gronk has been named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
It’s an incredible feat to say the least, but definitely not surprising.
What Gronk was able to accomplish in just nine seasons is what most professional football players dream of. He definitely altered the tight end position and left his mark on the game in the process for years to come. But according to head coach Bill Belichick, it was a bit of a slow start.
Here’s what Belichick said on the NFL Network show that revealed the list:
"“Rob was kind of a shot in the dark. He came up on his pre-draft visit, had a bad visit. We put him in a room, came back, he was asleep on the floor, didn’t make a very good impression. You know, we brought him in, we were getting ready to have a meeting with the coaches and go through and then he fell asleep on the floor.”"
The chemistry made between quarterback Tom Brady and Gronkowski is a huge part of the historic success of the New England Patriots in the 2010s decade.
His dominant presence on the field always called for a double-team, and Brady knew how to take advantage of it better than anyone. Gronk’s pure strength, paired with his athleticism, is what set him apart in the NFL.
Gronkowski has the most touchdowns in New England Patriots franchise history (80). Brady and Gronk are tied for most playoff touchdowns all-time by a quarterback-receiver duo with 12; Joe Montana and Jerry Rice also had 12. With that being said, Rob Gronkowski has the second-most playoff touchdowns in NFL history (12) behind Rice (22).
Over the course of Gronk’s impressive nine years of dominance in the league, he would become the greatest tight end in NFL history. He would also help lead the New England Patriots to five Super Bowl appearances, and he retired as a three-time Super Bowl champion. Not to mention he also retired as a five-time Pro Bowler and a four-time First-Team All Pro selection.
Tom Brady has had the most success as a quarterback in his career when he was throwing to Gronkowski. Brady’s 124.0 passer rating while targeting Gronk is the highest of any player Brady has thrown to with a minimum of 100 passes.
When Brady was asked about Gronk making the NFL 100 All-Time Team, he was happy and impressed by his former teammate. Here’s some of his remarks, courtesy of WEEI’s Ryan Hannable and “The Greg Hill Show”:
"“I think showing his mental and physical toughness, his approach to the game, his leadership. What he did on a play by play basis — he’s as deserving as anyone to be named to that team. It was amazing for him, and he deserves it. I’m proud of him. Another one of the great players I’ve had a chance to play with.”"
There are currently nine tight ends in the National Football League Hall of Fame, and Gronkowski was more productive than all of them, including: Dave Casper, Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Ozzie Newsome, Charlie Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, Jackie Smith, Kellen Winslow, and Tony Gonzalez.
Rob Gronkowski has definitely achieved enough to be considered a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His 521 receptions, 7,861 yards, and 79 receiving touchdowns (most in the NFL since 2010 when he was drafted) prove himself worthy of the title.
On the NFL 100 All-Time Team reveal show with Cris Collinsworth, Rich Eisen, and Bill Belichick, Belichick had more great things to say about his former player and future Hall of Fame tight end:
"“He was a tremendous blocker. He’s a great kid. Whatever his public persona is on the dance floor or at a party, in the building there is no better teammate, he works extremely hard. He had a great catch-radius for kind of as stiff as he is, he could balls on the shoelaces, he could get them over his head, and he could get them behind him.”"
There has been speculation in regards to Gronkowski coming out of retirement for next season. If Gronk does return to football, it will only effect when he’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame, as you need to be retired for at least five years. But if not, Gronk is looking at a first-ballot Hall of Fame enshrinement in five years.