Cover Photo: Getty Images
New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski, recently announced his retirement from the NFL, leaving a massive void at the position for the Patriots. Gronkowski's departure means the Patriots are not only losing their best tight end, but arguably their most dynamic pass catcher as well.
With a receiving corps now mainly consisting of Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and James White, the Patriots clearly need an influx of talent in their skill-position group. Realistically, New England will never actually replace Gronkowski, arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history, but let's look at the four most likely replacements for the future Hall of Famer this offseason.
4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins isn't the most exciting name on this list, but he's currently a free agent and likely won't command a big contract. Seferian-Jenkins is still just 26 years old, and while he's never posted over 360 receiving yards in a single season, he's an athletic player who could provide solid depth at tight end.
3. Noah Fant (TE, Iowa Hawkeyes)
Noah Fant is shooting up draft boards after an impressive performance at the 2019 NFL Combine. Fant ran a 4.50 40-yard dash, which is impressive for a man who stands 6' 4" and weighs 249 pounds. While Fant projects as a better receiver than a blocker, he's exactly the kind of dynamic threat the Patriots need. Mel Kiper Jr. is currently projecting Fant at No. 30 to the Green Bay Packers, but if he falls to No. 32, the Patriots could snatch him up.
2. Kyle Rudolph (TE, Minnesota Vikings)
Kyle Rudolph has been an effective blocker and receiver throughout his career with the Minnesota Vikings, and he's exactly the kind of versatile tight end the Patriots need. The Patriots have a ton of draft capital this offseason (12 picks total and five in the first three rounds), and Minnesota is close to capped out due to the huge contracts handed out to Kirk Cousins and Anthony Barr. If Minnesota is looking to unload Rudolph's $7.25 million deal, New England could be the ideal landing spot for him.
1. Irv Smith Jr. (TE, Alabama Crimson Tide)
Irv Smith Jr. is another versatile tight end prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft, and he'd be an excellent fit with New England. The ties between Nick Saban and Bill Belichick are well known, and Smith is an excellent pass catcher, who does his best work over the middle of the field. That's where Tom Brady has historically been the most effective as well, and it looks like Smith could be available when the Patriots are on the clock with the No. 32 overall selection.
Build your free bracket today, unlike other brackets, our $250,000 payout is guaranteed! It’s tournament time, and this year, you can get a piece of the action for FREE. Fill out your free bracket today, then come back to bet all throughout the tournament. https://www.fanduel.com/march-madness
Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.