The New England Patriots finally spent a relatively-high draft pick on a tight end, selecting UCLA Bruin Devin Asiasi in the third round.
Over a full year after Rob Gronkowski left the New England Patriots to “retirement” — but just a week or so after he really left the team to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady — it appears the Pats may have finally taken a measurable step to address his departure.
The combination of Ben Watson, Ryan Izzo, and Matt LaCosse last year was just plain awful for the Pats. New England had one of the worst tight end groups in the league, and it showed — the team’s offense sputtered down the stretch, as did the run game from a lack of quality blocking from the team’s tight ends.
Bill Belichick decided to trade up in the third round to nab UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi with the No. 91 overall pick. To get that pick, he traded the Las Vegas Raiders the 100th, 139th, and 172nd picks (the Pats also got the 159th pick in addition to the 91st).
Asiasi is 22 years old, stands 6’5, and weighs 272 lbs. ESPN had him ranked as their third-best tight end prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft behind only Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet and Dayton’s Adam Trautman. While Kmet was off the board by the time the Pats traded with the Raiders, Trautman was still available.
Evidently though, New England — or Belichick at least — was always more enamored with Asiasi than Trautman, contrary to many media reports linking the Patriots to Trautman (smokescreens, anyone?).
Asiasi isn’t a game-changer yet — he doesn’t enter the pros with the same level of hype as a Gronkowski or anybody else, for sure. But if he can find a way to circumvent the fabled “rookie year blues” that most tight ends seem to go through in the NFL, he could be a useful addition to a Patriots offense that desperately needs help at his position.