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.