When tight ends go down in New England, they go down hard. From the grotesque knee injury that knocked Rob Gronkowski out for the season, to the debacle that was Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots need to pick a TE in the 2014 NFL Draft. Enter Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the 6-foot-5, 262 pound TE out of Washington.
Jenkins played both football and basketball at Washington, and he won the John Mackey Award for best TE in 2013. His career records at Washington includes most touchdowns as a TE, as well as records for most receiving yards and receptions. He isn’t the most explosive TE in this year’s draft, but he’d be a much-needed large target for Tom Brady, who spent most of the 2013 season throwing passes to Julian Edelman, an explosive but undersized receiver who lacked the height needed to make key endzone catches.
Jenkins isn’t known for his blocking abilities, which is what makes Gronkowski such a standout at his position, but like Gronkowski, he’s hard to take down. Because of his long arms and towering frame, he’s also hard to defend, and he’s known to gain large chunks of yardage after the catch. Like a lot of prospects in this year’s draft class, Jenkins has one glowering blemish on his record — a DUI that got him suspended from the season opener in 2013. Despite this costly personal hiccup, along with a few weaknesses in his game, Jenkins is widely regarded as having more than what it takes to succeed as top TE in the NFL.