NFL DRAFT

Countdown to the Draft: TE – Patriots hitting reset button after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement

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(Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

As we count down to the 2019 NFL draft, we’ll take the measure of the Patriots by position and offer up five prospects at each position — three if they’re inclined to invest in the early going, and two more if they’re interested in waiting until later in the draft. Today, we look at the tight ends.

THE SKINNY

Let’s be really clear here before we start this exercise: There’s no “Next Gronk” out there in this draft. Rob Gronkowski was a once-in-a-generation offensive talent. To expect the Patriots to find one tight end this spring to instantly step in and do what he did is foolish. It’s not going to happen. Instead, what New England can try and do is look for a reasonable facsimile of the level of production Gronkowski delivered the last few seasons with a combination of talents at the position. To that end, the Patriots have spent much of the offseason adding the likes of Matt Lacosse and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to a depth chart that includes Jacob Hollister and Stephen Anderson. I’d wager they’re going to continue to add to that group on draft weekend.

POSSIBLE EARLY TARGETS

T.J. Hockenson, Iowa