New England Patriots

  • Devin Asiasi
  • Hunter Henry
  • Jonnu Smith

By now, you may have noticed no fullbacks on this year’s roster. The position has been a staple of the Patriots’ offense for the past few seasons, but that could change this year.

With two tight ends, the Patriots will likely shift most of their 21 personnel sets to 12, to maximize their talent on the field. When needed a second blocking back on the goal line, they can use a lineman, which Bill Belichick has done in the past (James Ferentz, Richard Seymour, Dan Klecko, etc). 

It was tempting to keep Dalton Keene, who projects to be able to play both tight end and fullback. However, he was the victim of the number crunch, and becomes a prime practice squad candidate. As for Jakob Johnson, he can be protected by the team under the International Pathway program, meaning they can get him to the practice squad without using up a spot, but he wouldn’t be eligible to play at all this season.

As the NFL season quickly approaches, the player ranking season slowly dwindles. Football reporters love to use the offseason to rank the top-10 insert position here or the top-25 insert superlative here.

This time, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler took a survey of more than 50 NFL insiders to find out who the best ten tight ends are in the league. The group surveyed includes league executives, coaches, scouts and players. They voted on their best ten to 15 tight ends and the scores were compiled into the master list.

The important part is this list ranks the best tight ends right now heading into 2021. It’s not projecting who will be the best in a couple years or who was the best three seasons ago. Who are the most talented tight ends today?

    1. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
    2. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
    3. Darren Waller – Las Vegas Raiders
    4. Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens
    5. TJ Hockenson – Detroit Lions
    6. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles
    7. Hunter Henry – New England Patriots
    8. Evan Engram – New York Giants
    9. Jonnu Smith – New England Patriots
    10. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

Henry, who was traded to the Patriots from the Chargers in March, slots in at seventh. That is one spot better than his ranking last season. His highest ranking was fourth and lowest was just ninth, meaning all of the insiders were pretty much in agreement that Henry deserved to be where he is.

“Not fast, but finds ways to get open and produce… Henry won’t stretch the field vertically but can get you 10 yards just about whenever you need it, dropping only one pass on 90 targets last year.”