With their top two options at the position from last season, David Thomas and Ben Watson, expiring after 2009, the Patriots may look to address the tight end position in next weeks draft. Earlier in the offseason, they signed former Jets tight end Chris Baker, who will essentially be a replacementDaniel Graham for the next few years. However, Ben Watson and David Thomas, two receiving tight ends, have been big dissapointments. While Ben Watson has shown flashes, he hasn’t ever put it together on a consistent basis. My guess: the Patriots draft whoever is left of John Phillips, Bear Pascoe, and Brian Mandeville in the fifth round at pick 170.
Current Grade: B-
Ben Watson – The Patriots 1st round pick from 2004 will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2009. Still possesses all of the athleticism and physical tools to be great, but inconsistent hands and effort have slowed his progress. 2009 will be a make or break year for Watson.
Chris Baker – The Patriots picked up Baker this offseason, and they hope he will be a big addition. Is physical, a great blocker, but also is effective enough in the passing game to let his prescence be known.
David Thomas – People were expecting a big year from David Thomas in 2008, and it never came. While he has some of the best hands I have seen from a tight end, he has never put it together.
Tyson DeVree – Dropped the only pass intended for him in 2008. Is more of a blocker, and is a fringe practice squad / end roster guy.
Brad Listorti – Picked up from the Jets this offseason. Very long shot to make the roster.
Draft Prospects:* (Probability of Patriots drafting in italics, 1-10, ten being the highest)
Bradon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State: At over 6-5, 260 pounds, Pettigrew is a true physical specimen. Has freakishly long arms and can extend to make the catch, showing good hands as well, atlhough he lacks the straight line speed to be a huge threat down the seam. Also a very experienced, strong blocker. Probability: 5.0 | Grade: 9.0
Cornelius Ingram, Florida: Has good size and amazing athleticism. Shows soft hands and an ability to get down the seam, make the catch, and use both strength and agility to make yards after the catch. Reminds me a little bit of Antonio Gates. However, lacks experience as a blocker. Probability: 6.5 | Grade: 7.5
John Phillips, Virginia: Good all around tight end, who possesses great size, and can make nice, clean catches. Keeps his body under control and can extend to make the reception. Is an excellent blocker, showing a nice initial pop. However, he is not explosive or fast, and will be better suited on short routes, not making big plays down the seams. Probability: 6.0 | Grade: 7.0
McKenna “Bear” Pascoe, Fresno State: Is a very willing blocker who can make the occassional catch in traffic, and runs solid short to intermediate routes. Has good size, but lacks natural athleticism. Probability: 6.0 | Grade: 6.5
Brian Mandeville, Northeastern: Has great height and an excellent wingspan; and uses these physical attributes to his advantage as a receiver, effectively shielding to defenders to the ball. Has good athleticism and agility, however, he lacks some strength as a blocker. Probability: 5.0 | Grade: 6.5
*= These “draft prospects” are players that the Patriots are actually looking at picking up or have shown a legitimate interest in.