- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Each week leading up to April’s NFL Draft, New England native Steve Muench of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., will identify a player he thinks could be a good fit for the Patriots. Today, it’s Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski:
“One of the biggest questions teams are going to have with him is that he missed all of last year with a back injury which required surgery to fix. There were also three games, I believe, the year before when he had mono. So durability is something to consider. He’s also an underclassman.
“We have him as an early second-rounder at this point, but even with the limited body of work and film to look at, he still could sneak into the first round. That’s very rare for someone in his position.
“At the combine, he measured in at 6-foot-6, 264 pounds and had 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press. He has huge hands and really long arms. What you can see of him on film, he is a tough blocker. Some tight ends will just wall guys off or do a little dancing with them, but he takes pride in that area of the game. On top of that, he has potential to be an outstanding receiver. We don’t know his top-end speed yet because he didn’t run at the combine, but we do know he can stretch the field based on what we've seen on film. He shows he can track the deep ball and make plays down the seam, while also making plays underneath by using his frame to shield defenders.
“If he stays healthy, he’s quite intriguing. That his draft stock is as high as it is reflects how much of a raw talent he is. The concern for any team will be the health. A team like the Patriots would probably want to target a mid-level free agent to hold the fort just in case. But he could be a great fit for them. He could be a great fit for anyone.”