The New England Patriots were really high on Dalton Keene during the draft, and that explains why they traded up to take him in the third round.
If you’ve been a football fan dating back to the late 90s and early 2000s, you might remember former Tennessee Titans and Houston Oilers great Frank Wycheck. Watch Keene in action and tell me you don’t see some shades of the 3-time Pro-Bowler with his ability to block in the run game, and to catch passes from the tight end and H-Back position.
Dalton Keene Virginia Tech Highlights
Most will know Wycheck as the man who threw the lateral to Kevin Dyson that produced the ‘Music City Miracle’ finish in the 2000 AFC WildCard game against the Buffalo Bills.
However, Wycheck was quite the offensive weapon as he helped revolutionize the H-Back position. In his hybrid fullback-tight-end role, Wycheck made 505 receptions, 5,126 receiving yards, and 28 touchdowns during his 11-year career.
Obviously, the Patriots would be thrilled if Keene could become that kind of player for them.
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Physical Measurements are Almost Identical
The similarities in style of play aren’t the only connection to Wycheck. The two men are almost the exact same height and weight as players. Keene measured 6’4″ 253 pounds at the NFL Combine while Wycheck is listed at 6’3″ 253 on Pro-Football-Reference.
While the height and weight are almost the exact same, Keene separates himself from Wycheck as a pure athlete. The first measurable where Keene is superior is speed. Wycheck ran the 40-yard dash in 4.94 back in 1993 before the Washington Redskins selected him in the sixth round of the draft that year.
Keene clocked in much faster at 4.71, and he added to that impressive number for a tight end with a 34″ vertical leap. Wycheck registered a 32″ vertical leap during his run at the Combine.
In some ways, you could argue Keene looks like a more athletic version of Wycheck, which could render even better results.
The Perfect Mix at Tight End
In addition to Keene, the Patriots also drafted tight end Devin Asiasi out of UCLA. Suddenly, tight end has gone from a position of weakness to one of power and great upside for the Patriots.
Not since the team had Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have they had two viable pass-catching options at the position. Both Asiasi and Keene have the ability to make new QB Jarrett Stidham’s job easier in his first year as starting QB.
We don’t know how health and/or off-the-field issues could play a role in this tandem’s stay with the Patriots, but as the team headed into the 2020 NFL Draft with a focus on improving the tight end position, you’d have to say mission accomplished.
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