One at a time each weekday over the next month, I'll share my list of the top 25 AFC East players.
The rundown is based on where players are before free agency commences. The lockout might end and players on expiring contracts possibly could join other teams before they're revealed on the countdown. If that happens, the rankings will march on. We can't swap in a new No. 10 in mid-July.
New England Patriots
Here we go ...
No. 25 Rob Gronkowski, Patriots tight end
About the choice: The rookie from the University of Arizona was an instrumental component to the Patriots' reconstituted offense. He was a big target for Tom Brady on third downs and in the red zone. Gronkowski tied Antonio Gates and Marcedes Lewis for the touchdown lead among NFL tight ends. Gronkowski shared touches with fellow rookie Aaron Hernandez and scored his 10 touchdowns on just 42 catches. Gronkowski is a better in-line blocker than Hernandez and should be a dangerous tight end for years to come if he can avoid injuries.
Key fact: Gronkowski became only the fourth player to score double-digit receiving touchdowns in Patriots history, joining Randy Moss, Stanley Morgan and Jim Colclough.
Hint about No. 24: A Google search of his name will turn up more hits about something that happened in practice than anything he has done in a game.