The New England Patriots have opened up massive holes on the offensive side of the ball each of the past two offseasons. This year, as you've probably heard, Tom Brady has elected to take his talents to Tampa Bay. That leaves Jarrett Stidham as the current favorite to be the starting quarterback.
While quarterback has been the focus of many Patriots fans this offseason, the tight end position is still a major problem for the squad. In 2019, they lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement creating a void that was never filled. Matt LaCosse, Ben Watson, and Ryan Izzo weren't able to do much as the team's primary options at the position so the Patriots are still looking for solutions there.
However, the Patriots have yet to sign any free-agent tight ends as of this writing. So, they may have to look for a long-term starting option in the 2020 NFL Draft. That shouldn't be a problem, right?
Not so fast.
On the latest episode of The Next Pats Podcast, Phil Perry spoke with Pro Football Focus' Mike Renner about the 2020 tight end class. And Renner didn't have a lot of kind words for this year's prospects at the position.
I think this tight end class is one of the worst I've ever seen. It's bad top to bottom. The No. 1 guy on our board is somewhere in the 70s I wanna say, Hunter Bryant, and he's borderline H-back-type size. He's [a] 6-2, 248 [pound] kind of guy. Really good ball skills and whatnot, but he's not a blocker in-line whatsoever. I don't think he would fit in the Patriots right now what they want.
Renner also mentioned that teams seem to realize that the tight end position is a major weak spot in this draft based on recent league-wide transactions. The Cleveland Browns shelled out the richest tight end contract in league history to get Austin Hooper while the Atlanta Falcons offloaded a second-round selection to get Hayden Hurst.
So, these moves are not a ringing endorsement for this class at all, and it seems like bad news for the Patriots considering the dearth of tight end talent they currently have on the roster.
But if the Patriots do look to select a tight end, there is a player that Perry and Renner could see them being interested in. And as Renner explains, that's Cole Kmet.
I could see the Patriots being really high on [Kmet]. And he's a guy who played baseball every spring. He wasn't fully committed to football, didn't have spring practice. You'd think that maybe the arrow is pointing upwards for him now that he's focusing on football full-time.
Kmet (6-foot-6, 262 pounds) grabbed 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in his final season with the Fighting Irish. He had one of the best showings among tight ends at the 2020 NFL Combine, blazing a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, which is great for his size, and performing well in the other athletic tests.
Though Kmet's production was at the college level, it's more than what the Patriots got out of all their tight ends combined last season; the Patriots' three primary tight ends had 36 catches for 418 yards and two touchdowns. So it's easy to see why Renner and Perry consider Kmet to be a potential fit in New England.
For more on the Patriots potential targets in the 2020 NFL Draft including who they may target at quarterback in the aftermath of Brady's departure, be sure to listen and subscribe to the Next Pats Podcast.