Patriots ’20 Questions: How much impact will rookie tight ends have?

Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable
June 26, 2020 - 11:27 am
Categories: 

The Patriots are in the midst of the most interesting, important offseason in more than two decades. Tom Brady moved on to Tampa Bay. Bill Belichick remains in place with a veteran roster. There are plenty of questions and even more plentiful opinions regarding the defending AFC East champions. Over the next few weeks WEEI.com will ask and offer up answers to 20 of the most critical questions facing the 2020 Patriots.

Today’s question: How much impact will the rookie tight ends have?

Listen Live Now on WEEI

Hannable: The Patriots got the worst production out of the tight end position a year ago, so it will likely be more of an impact than that, but it's hard to imagine it being a big one. Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene were both third-round picks, so sure they could work out, but there's also a chance they don't. Keene isn't a typical Patriots tight end as he is more of a hybrid fullback in a way where he lines up all over the field, including in the backfield. He does a lot of the dirty work compared to making plays in the passing game. He likely won't be contributing much, at least on the stat sheet.

As for Asiasi, he certainly has a greater upside in making an impact on the passing game, but he's inexperienced. He transferred to UCLA from Michigan and only had really one full college season before being drafted. While he potentially could be a player who is a threat in the passing game, it's hard to imagine that comes right away. This could be a big learning year for the UCLA product as he acclimates himself to life in the NFL. Do not be surprised if he's only involved in certain packages and it takes some time for him to get used to being in the NFL.

It may be beneficial to the Patriots to try and add another veteran at the position before training camp.

Hart: Will the two tight end draft picks make the position better than it was last year? Probably, it couldn’t be much worse. The tight end spot was a non-factor a year ago for the Patriots. That said, there seems to be a little too much hype for Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. They are mid-round picks. They bring talent, but they also bring plenty of questions.

Asiasi in particular is very athletic and could certainly make more plays than almost anyone that was on the roster a year ago. But, he’s also a guy that has only one year of college experience. He had a good breakout year. I still have major doubts about the position. It will be better. But it won’t be back to the glory days by any stretch.

Anyone bringing up the Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez draft duo in comparison to Asiasi/Keene is out of their mind! They are also doing a disservice to the rookies. They have mid-round rookie potential for a team with a major need at the position. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Related: Adam Schefter explains how Patriots have shown confidence in Jarrett Stidham this offseason