The New England Patriots need tight end depth, and they just signed one of the more athletic rookies at the position in the 2022 NFL Draft.
On Thursday, the Patriots signed former Buffalo Bills TE and Texas A&M star Jalen Wydermyer.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Wydermyer went undrafted this year but signed with the Bills and had been with Buffalo until he was released earlier in the week. Some media outlets considered the news a surprise because Wydermyer has an intriguing set of physical tools. He has the look of a player who could develop into a gem. He will wear No. 88 on his uniform, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss:
While at Texas A&M, Wydermyer averaged 39.3 receptions for 489 yards and 5.3 TDs per season during his three years with the program. His big frame and the ability to win jump balls–especially in the red zone–seemed intriguing.
Unfortunately, Wydermyer didn’t test well in pre-draft workouts, and he went unselected despite his athleticism and NFL frame. When he landed with the Bills, there was some belief that he could be a project player who developed into a contributor. Perhaps that will still happen, just not with the Bills.
Why Did the Patriots Need a Tight End?
New England’s starting tight end Hunter Henry has been battling an injury described as “minor” by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. Still, there is a good chance his availability could be limited on Friday night against the Seattle Seahawks in the team’s second preseason matchup.
Adding to Henry’s injury, third-year tight end Dalton Keene has been hurt and unable to participate fully in training camp. ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss described Keene and Henry as “not 100%.”
With Henry and Keene out or limited, the Patriots had just Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi and Matt Sokol available at tight end. Keene has been injured most of his career since being selected in third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He has played in just six games and made 3 receptions in his career.
Asiasi, who was also picked in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, has been similarly ineffective and absent. While he has played in 10 games during his career, he has just 2 receptions, though one of them was for a TD.
As it is, Wydermyer may have a chance to come in and stake a claim to the third tight end spot as neither Asiasi, Sokol, or Keene has grabbed a hold of the role.
Can a Tight End Have a Big Game on Friday Night?
Smith would seemingly be in the best position to have an eye-opening performance. He was a massive disappointment in 2021 after he signed a 4-year, $50 million deal last offseason.
He needs to show and prove early to increase his teammates’ and coaches’ confidence in him. Asiasi should have a chance to play well too. New England is expected to give their starters a longer look against the Carolina Panthers, who are expected to play 2s and 3s, per the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. With Henry likely out, Asiasi should slot up one spot and get in some solid reps.
We’ll see if he makes the most of the opportunity.