In each of the 10 weekdays leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify one player who projects as a solid fit for the Patriots at various points of the draft. Read all of the profiles.
Player: Jermaine Gresham
Position: Tight end
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-5 1/4, 261 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at position (scouting report)
Draft projection: First round
Why he’s on our list: Gresham is considered the top combination tight end in the draft, someone who could be a factor as both a pass-catcher and blocker. That has traditionally been the type of tight end the Patriots target. The Patriots also have a significant need at the position, with veteran Alge Crumpler the lone tight end on the roster with NFL experience.
Recommended link: The Oklahoman explains why Gresham became known as “Big Game Jermaine”.
Key stat: Set single-season Oklahoma records for yards (950) and touchdowns (14) by a tight end in 2008.
Workout stat: Posted a 35-inch vertical jump and seemed to prove that his surgically repaired knee is sound.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “First things first, Gresham missed all of last year with a knee injury so there are questions about his durability. Secondly, his effort and technique as a blocker are subpar. On the other hand, he has the frame (6-5, 261 pounds) and enough upper body strength to develop into an effective blocker if he works at and gets the proper coaching. As far as the knee injury is concerned, it looked strong and did not appear to hinder him during his workout at the Combine. Besides, the reason he is our top ranked tight end is his ability to make plays in the passing game. He’s fast enough to stretch the field and quick enough to get open underneath. There’s also a great deal to like about the competiveness, wiggle and burst he shows after the catch. New England would be a good landing spot for Gresham because they have proven veterans that will push him to realize his potential. However, 2004 first round pick Ben Watson and free agent departure (Cleveland) didn’t pan out as expected so the Patriots may be reluctant to take a tight end this early.”