Monday, July 8, 2013
Follow-up thoughts: Zach Sudfeld
By Field Yates
Zach Sudfeld, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Nevada, was hard to miss during Patriots offseason workouts, and not just because of the long, blonde hair flowing from the backside of helmet. He emerged as several tight ends shared reps in the absence of both Rob Gronkowksi and now former Patriot Aaron Hernandez, each of whom was limited this offseason as they recovered from their respective surgeries.
Sudfeld stood out as a natural pass catcher with a big frame (6-foot-7, 260 pounds) to match it. He displayed the movement skills to be an "F" tight end, something Hernandez excelled at given his athleticism.
It's short-sighted to make hardline judgements based on offseason workouts, as the sessions weren't even conducted in pads, but Sudfeld has at the very least arrived on the radar, as was evidenced by colleague Mike Rodak predicting his chances of making the 53-man roster at 65 percent in today's Bubble Watch entry.
Sudfeld was a productive player in college, catching eight touchdowns during his senior season, but his age (he's older than Rob Gronkowski) and durability (he redshirted twice in college) likely impacted his draft stock. He's now arrived in a landing spot that at the very least affords him a shot to compete for a job.
Given his injury history and the physical nature of the tight end position, we want to see Sudfeld perform with pads on and in NFL game action before taking a stronger stance on his professional outlook, but it's fair to say that, at this point, no other undrafted rookie was more noticeable during OTA's and minicamp. If Gronkowski is unable to start the season on the active roster as he recovers from back surgery, the Patriots need for contributions from their reserve tight ends will further grow. Sudfeld has a chance to make his mark among that group.