Patriots sign draft pick Hernandez

The Patriots announced the signing of rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, their fourth-round draft choice, today.

Hernandez is the fourth of the team's 12 draft choices to sign a contract. He joins center Ted Larsen (sixth round), receiver Taylor Price (third round) and offensive lineman Thomas Welch (seventh round) as picks who have signed deals.

Hernandez has looked sharp in the few practices open to media members. In one session, he lined up with some of the team's top returning players, such as Randy Moss and Kevin Faulk, which could have been viewed as an indication that he will see significant playing time.

The Patriots project to have veteran Alge Crumpler (6-2, 262) and rookies Rob Gronkowski (6-6, 265) and Hernandez (6-1, 250) at tight end. Hernandez's skills are more receiver-like, so he's viewed as a nice complement to the more physical Crumpler and Gronkowski.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, who first reported on the agreement, indicated that the deal is for four years.