James Develin Should Replace Rob Gronkowski At Tight End For New England Patriots

By Will Gellman
James Develin
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago, fullback James Develin was a complete afterthought in the New England Patriots‘ offense. He started to gain some public attention after a fantastic one-yard touchdown run against the Houston Texans in Week 13. He also made a great catch in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns, putting his athleticism as well as his good hands, on full display.

With Rob Gronkowski done for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, there is no doubt that the Patriots need a big bodied receiver to step in and fill that role.  Most would probably assume that backup TE Matthew Mulligan would do so.  However, Mulligan is not a great pass catcher and his main job in the offense is to block.

While Develin is not a proven pass catcher either, he has shown to be a playmaker with a tight-end like build.  He is 6-foot-3 251-pounds, and he runs a 5.03 40-yard dash time.  If you watch him, particularly on the 31-yard completion he had on Sunday, his style of play is actually very similar to that of Gronk.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that Develin is Gronkowski or vice-versa; that would be just plain foolish.  What I am saying is that he could be the big-bodied receiver more likely to shine in the Pats’ offense compared to Mulligan.

In any case, they must find a way to at least partially make up for the loss of Gronk on the field.  Develin might be their best bet in terms of filling that role.

Will Gellman is a New England Patriots’ writer for RantSports.com.  Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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