Rob Gronkowski’s retirement dominated the Patriots offseason. Will his decision to hand up his cleats also affect New England’s draft plans?
The Patriots’ 2018 campaign ended in a very familiar fashion for New England. There’s nothing new about Bill Belichick and company hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. However, Rob Gronkowski’s surprising retirement did add a healthy dose of uncertainty to the team’s offseason.
Replacing Gronk is going to require multiple players to step up for the Patriots, but it doesn’t change the fact that they have a gaping hole at tight end. The team also let Dwayne Allen go which means they could reasonably choose to add multiple tight ends in this draft.
At the very least, New England has to consider taking a tight end at No. 32. The team also has needs to satisfy on the defensive line. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Belichick go for a replacement for Trey Flowers at the end of the first round.
One wild card option to consider is that the Pats might look for a wideout to help fill Gronkowski’s void in the passing game. There could be excellent value at the wide receiver position late in Round 1. Here are five players who could be headed to the Super Bowl champions at No. 32.
5. Noah Fant
Fant finds himself at No. 5 on this list not because of his own talent, but because it’s very likely he’ll be off the board by this point in the draft. If he’s still available when the Patriots go on the clock, they shouldn’t hesitate to end his Draft Day slide.
Make no mistake about what Fant is as a tight end, he’s not a blocker by any stretch of the imagination. He is a player who can flex out and make plays from the slot. That’s what his appeal will be for New England and other teams.
Fant is a match-up nightmare and Belichick loves to have that type of player on his roster. If Fant falls, the Patriots will snap him up and make other teams pay.