Allow me to introduce myself, Patriots Nation. My name is Clare Cooper. I am from the UK and I am here to talk about New England Patriots tight ends.
If you are a frequenter of Twitter, and a listener of a certain collection of Patriots web radio shows/podcasts, you may already be aware of my ‘voice.’ You should also be aware of the fact that I am a BIG fan of the tight end position in American football. Much like most of you in Patriots Nation, the reason for my adoration for said position blossomed with one Rob Gronkowski.
Alas, Gronkowski has moved on…and so shall we.
Although the tight ends with which we are moving forward may not be in the ‘top ten,’ they do have potential. Two of them happen to be 2020 third-round drafted rookies. Quite frankly, we have yet to see much of what they can accomplish.
I am beyond the first person to state they have high hopes for Devin Asiasi. With the exception of a possible injury, much of what we are hearing out of Gillette Stadium is positive and hopeful. I also have my ‘not-so-sharp eye’ on Dalton Keene, as well as incumbent, Ryan Izzo.
I say ‘not-so-sharp’ because it is not a secret that I am still a rookie when it comes to analysis.
But I digress, back to tight ends.
We do know that Keene is a versatile player, who has the ability to line up anywhere, That is good for us, bad for opposing defenses! The Patriots might explore the option of putting Keene in the fullback position, which may not be a bad thing with a possible lack of depth. However, for now, let us consider him as a tight end, first and foremost.
Whilst he definitely looks good, Keene is a newbie, Ryan Izzo is not. You may not be a big fan of Izzo. (Heck, I wouldn’t blame you) Over the past two seasons, he has yet to provide much. To be fair, he spent the majority of the 2019 season injured. Still Patriots fans, his third year may just be the year that he demonstrates his prowess as a tight end. Now that he’s officially on the roster, I seriously hope so.
Reports from training camp have confirmed that Izzo is looking good. Again, I remain aware that he only looks good in comparison to his own teammates. That, in tandem with the lack of preseason games has made effective evaluations quite difficult. However, several analysts such as the Voice of the Patriots, Bob Socci, our very own Mike D’Abate, and a couple of gentlemen of Patriots Unfiltered have all commented to the positive…and those guys are in the know.
As you might deduce, it is no secret that I have hitched my wagon to the veteran. In fact, I was all-in on Izzo last year; he was my rebound from Gronkowsi at the position. In my defense, as a fan, you want to root for someone. Izzo was my choice. This year, my faith may just pay off…. we will see.
I have to say one cut that surprised me personally was Paul Butler. He was the biggest tight end in camp at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. A veteran, he has big arms and a bulky look that I was sure would make him a good blocker. Realistically, I did not see the team cutting Asiasi, Keene or Izzo. All in all, Butler would have made four tight ends on the roster, and only a severe tight end enthusiast would be expecting this. (*ahem*)
Despite Butler being jettisoned, I was pleased to see the rookie free agent, Boston College’s Jake Burt make the practice squad. Signed originally back in May, he is another casualty of 2020’s lack of visibility. I have read that he plays with heart and may have some versatility. He has decent size to him and obviously I’m looking forward to seeing him in action.
In the final analysis, the New England Patriots will carry three tight ends in 2020. I do not think many Patriots fans are surprised. The effects of COVID19 restrictions, the cancelling of joint practices and the loss of the preseason have severely compromised New England’s ability to really witness players in action. Therefore, it is no surprise that many undrafted rookies have had difficulty finding their way onto the 53-man rosters of several NFL teams.
Patriots Nation, we count down to the team’s first game versus the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Like most of you, I cannot wait to see what these tight ends can do on the field; along with the rest of the team. After all, I am an avid fan, with a love for writing; filled with enthusiasm for the New England Patriots. Yet, I am still learning so very much. Therefore, I offer a friendly challenge to you ‘veterans’ to examine my love for the team, helping me to learn more in the process.
..Just don’t ask me to rattle off the scores of say a fall game we played against the Buffalo Bills, circa 2007….
–Clare L. Cooper is a Special Contributor for Full Press Coverage. Her New England Patriots insight can be found @FPC_Patriots