Quick-hit evaluations of tight ends

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
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After some moving and shaking, the Patriots' active roster currently stands at the 53-man limit.

Using training camp practices and preseason games, here is a brief scouting report of every offensive player on the Patriots' active roster, highlighting their strengths and limitations, continuing with the tight ends:

Rob Gronkowski

Strengths: Phenomenal combination of size, strength, speed, and athleticism. Machine-like in his build. Tough as rocks. Very good hands, good ability to dig into his routes, physical at the point of contact and can create separation. A top blocking tight end, with ability to set the edge. Very good hand placement, power, and willingness as a blocker. Nearly impossible to bring down in the open field. Record-setting production in 2011.

Limitations: Not a major quick-twitch athlete, and not the kind of guy who is going to - or needs to - elude defenders laterally. Can continue to improve in subtelties of the game as year three begins.

Aaron Hernandez

Strengths: Elite athlete for the position. Can line up all over the offensive formation, including as an end of the line tight end, split out receiver, fullback and half back from the backfield. Has rare make-you-miss ability, and is extremely quick to cut back and forth. Has very good hands, speed, route running ability. A weapon on the field. Although not overpowering, gives a good effort as a blocker.

Limitations: Not an overpowering blocker, not the type of player to be used to neutralize an end or outside linebacker in pass protection. Can at times make too many cuts in open space. Doesn't have a history of major injuries, but has dealt with nicks and bruises during first two seasons.

Daniel Fells

Strengths: Good athlete and pass catcher. Has very soft hands, and can corral the football in tight space. Has good ability to run the short-to-medium distance route tree, and can be the move-guy within an offense. Has good size, and is a developing blocker.

Limitations: Not an overpowering blocker. Can be knocked back in his base, but had a good showing overall in limited snaps as a blocker this preseason. Durability is an area to monitor as the season begins, as he missed much of training camp and the offseason.

Visanthe Shiancoe

Strengths: Productive pass catcher with a good long frame. Effective in the red zone, and understands zone defenses to find space. Has reliable hands, and although not the athlete of season's past, still has enough to do some damage in the passing game. Has been extremely durable (played every game in his career).

Limitations: Similar to Fells and Hernandez in not being a dominant run blocker. Until he is healthy and back on the field, the story on Shiancoe is not fully-told.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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