The New England Patriots are targeting the tight end position in the 2014 draft and a trade up for a player like Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins or CJ Fiedorowicz could be options for the team and Bill Belichick if Rob Gronkowski's knee injury slows his return and those names could also help mitigate the loss of Aaron Hernandez last season and with the draft coming in one week, rumors are starting to fly about what the team will do.
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The Patriots have set themselves up nicely for this draft and while Gronkowski is expected to make a full return, the team may want to grab some insurance to make sure what happened last year doesn't happen again. Gronk missed time at the beginning and the end of the season and with Hernandez arrested, the team was lacking at a position where they once were very strong and that is why many believe the Pats will look at the TE in the draft this year. Ebron and Amaro are considered two of the top names, while Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Fiedorowicz could be sleeper options and all those guys are athletic, with good hands and solid speed. Ebron and Amaro are like wide receivers and that could be what the Pats are looking for.
The team comes into the draft with two fourth round picks and two sixth round picks along with one pick in the first three rounds and one in the seventh and that means they could look to move up or down at various points in the draft. The team picks at number 29 and that will be too far to get Ebron or Amaro, which means the Pats could look to trade up if they like those players enough. Ebron is an athletic freak, while Amaro put up record numbers at Texas Tech and he split out wide quite a bit and that is something the Patriots did with Hernandez and Gronk on many occasions.
Last season Gronk was injured and ended up with 39 catches for 592 yards and four touchdowns and in his career he has over 40 touchdowns and the Pats need him healthy for next season. The Patriots start the season on September 7 and Gronk said that his knee feels good and that he expects to be ready after getting surgery in the offseason. Fiedorowicz has plenty of experience after playing in over 50 games while at Iowa and while he went down in receptions this season, his size at 6-foot-5 1/2, 265 pounds is ideal for the Patriots and Ebron is also very impressive and he is 20 pounds lighter and had over 60 catches last season for 973 yards.
Ebron is not much of a blocker and neither is Amaro, but that is not what they are paid to do, as Amaro had over 100 catches for 1352 yards last season and that is gravy for the Pats. Adam Schefter Reported that the Patriots visited with Dustin Keller and even if the team signs him, they still could look for a replacement in the draft, as Keller was also injured last season after tearing up his knee in the preseason.