Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC East [Print without images]

Monday, February 25, 2013
Is Rob Gronkowski too injury-prone?

By James Walker

Rob Gronkowski is a lot of things: He's a great tight end for the New England Patriots, he’s colorful and also likes to party.

But is Gronkowski also too injury-prone? That is the question the Patriots must consider after Gronkowski had his third arm surgery to clear out an infection.

Gronkowski's draft stock fell three years ago due to concerns about his back in college. The Patriots took Gronkowski, a first-round talent, in the second round. The risk paid off as Gronkowski became a Pro Bowler in his second season and his back is no longer an issue.

But Gronkowski has suffered various injuries with the Patriots the past two years. He had a severe ankle injury in 2011 that required offseason surgery. In the past year, Gronkowski broke his arm twice and had three surgeries.

The injuries and surgeries are adding up for Gronkowski, and at some point it will impact his ability as a player. Gronkowski is only 23, and he has had four surgeries the past two seasons. He's had three arm surgeries alone in the past several months.

New England committed $53 million to Gronkowski and expected him to have a long and productive career. Health permitting, Gronkowski has Hall of Fame potential. But longevity will be key, and Gronkowski must avoid more significant injuries the rest of his career.