4 Most Likely Replacements for Rob Gronkowski

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 03:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots reacts against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams | Streeter Lecka

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)

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Austin Seferian-Jenkins #88 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks in a touchdown reception during the first half against the New England Patriots at TIAA Bank Field on September 16, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Sam Greenwood

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)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 06: Julian Huff #20 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers pushes Noah Fant #87 of the Iowa Hawkeyes out of bounds during the second quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Hannah Foslien

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)

FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 02:  Patrick Chung #23 of the New England Patriots attempts to break up a pass to Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Billie Weiss

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)

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 29:  Irv Smith Jr. #82 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Streeter Lecka

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.

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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.

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