Patriots Projected to Take ‘Explosive’ TE in 2024

Bill Belichick

Getty Bill Belichick could for a tight end in next year's draft.

The New England Patriots could find a dominant tight end for the first time since Rob Gronkowski in the next NFL Draft for 2024.

That’s the scenario that The Athletic’s Dane Brugler sees it playing out as does The 33rd Team. Both project the Patriots to pick Georgia tight end Brock Bowers in 2024 with a top-10 pick.

“We’ve known about Brock Bowers for two years,” The 33rd Team wrote. “The explosive and versatile tight end has been incredibly productive for the defending back-to-back national champion Bulldogs. He already has 20 career-receiving touchdowns in college.”

A 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior, Bowers amassed 119 catches for 1,824 yards and 20 touchdowns in the past two seasons for the Bulldogs. Brugler noted that Bowers plays bigger than his size.

“Bowers is among the one-percenters who are physically ready for the NFL after their freshman seasons,” Brugler wrote. “He’s a tad undersized for the position, but his athletic skill — especially with the ball in his hands — is outstanding.”

Experts Project Patriots for Bottom of AFC East

Amid the Patriots’ fall from AFC East dominance in recent years, experts now project the Patriots to finish at the bottom.

“It may come as a surprise the New England Patriots are picking inside the top 10 for the first time in more than two decades, but there are no more softballs in a gauntlet of an AFC East,” The 33rd Team wrote. “The Patriots reload with a talented player at No. 9.”

Brugler tabbed the Patriots at No. 7 for the pick. Other “way-to-early” mock drafts, such as CBS Sports, has the Patriots picking in or near the top 10.

New England will face a challenging AFC East that now has two elite quarterbacks in the New York JetsAaron Rodgers and the Buffalo BillsJosh Allen. The Miami Dolphins look poised to make another playoff run, too, with Tua Tagovailoa under center.

With that said, the Patriots made the playoffs in 2021 with quarterback Mac Jones, and the Patriots boast one of the best defenses in the league. New England could improve its offense with the current depth chart amid the addition of new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

Patriots Will Rely on Two Tight Ends

While the Patriots addressed defensive needs primarily in this year’s draft, the Patriots didn’t take a tight end amid five offensive player selections. The Patriots took three offensive linemen in the middle rounds and two wide receivers in the sixth round.

That means the Patriots will look to tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki, a trade acquisition from the Dolphins, to get the job done in 2023. Henry caught 41 passes for 509 yards and two touchdowns in 2022, and Gesicki tallied 32 receptions for 362 yards and five touchdowns in his final season with the Dolphins.

New England also has Matt Sokol, who appeared in three games for the Patriots last season. He has yet to catch a pass in his NFL career.

After this year’s draft, the Patriots added former Louisiana standout Johnny Lumpkin, a 6-foot-5, 264-pound tight end. Lumpkin, who played more of a blocking role in college, tallied 36 receptions for 408 yards and six touchdowns in his career. He could fit in as a blocker if he can crack the 53-man roster.