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Ask PFW: Where Gronkowski ranks all-time


Where do you think that Rob Gronkowski rates right now on the all-time Patriots TE list? I am thinking that the top three are Gronk, Russ Francis, and Ben Coates, in that order. Or perhaps [Russ] Francis still first for longevity. Am I missing someone? [Don] Hasselbeck?
- Dan Driban

Gronk is the best tight end in NFL history, bar none. So, yes, that would put him at the top of the team's all-time list. Francis and Coates are easily the next best in club history. I'd say they're 2A and 2B. Tough to choose between them. Hasselbeck had some good years, and you might want to consider Marv Cook, too, to round out your top five. But if Gronk can stay on his current pace for the next four or five years, he's going to rumble all the way to Canton, Ohio.
- Erik Scalavino


Hey guys, what a game! Is it me, or did Jonas Gray look a lot like 2004 Corey Dillon with that performance [against Indy]? I don't want to blow expectations out of the water, but it was refreshing to see a downhill runner hit the hole with a lot of power and more importantly rack up the yards after contact. If he keeps playing like this do you think Rid could be out of a job?*
*- Graham Smith

Gray had a phenomenal game at Indianapolis. Literally record-setting, in fact. He took advantage of stellar blocking by the offensive line and extra blockers (fullback James Develin, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and rookie o-lineman Cameron Fleming, in particular) and did very little improvising. He ran to the assigned holes on nearly every play, protected the football, and demonstrated excellent patience, power, and stamina (38 carries at an average of more than 5 yards a pop).

It would be unreasonable to expect that sort of production from Gray every week, but he certainly showed he deserves to be at this level. If he can continue to produce as asked for the remainder of this season, when free agency arrives this spring, it might be easier for New England to allow Stevan Ridley, whom you mentioned, to hit the market. Gray seems to be a very nice young man and is saying and doing all the right things at the moment. If he keeps this up, he just might have a bright future in Foxborough, and at the expense of Ridley.
- Erik Scalavino


The New England Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, November 16, 2014.

Is Brandon Bolden in Bill [Belichick]'s doghouse? I feel like putting out an APB on the man. I figured once [Stevan] Ridley went down, it would be naturally "the next man up" scenario, with Bolden and a mixture of the new guys, [rookie James] White and [veteran Jonas] Gray. But besides some special teams play, he has become invisible. What do you think is happening over there?* *Rick Bass

Bolden has definitely been in that doghouse before, but these days, I think he's just slipped down the depth chart, Rick. We aren't allowed to watch practice in depth during the regular season, but evidently, Gray has shown the coaches something that they like better than what Bolden can provide as the between-the-tackles back. "Next man up" still applies, it's just Gray who is that next man. That was clearly on display in Week 11 at Indianapolis.

Gray and Shane Vereen are the tandem the coaches now trust, as White has been mostly inactive and Bolden relegated to special teams duty, as you indicated. Heretofore, I hadn't seen a great deal of difference between Bolden and Gray, in the limited sample size that both players had given us, but Gray's game against the Colts gave us all a glimpse of what kind of things he must be doing in practice to have earned his opportunity.
- Erik Scalavino

Hi guys, another question from Broncos land. First of all, great win [at Indy], super D, fantastic running! My question is that Tom Brady seemed "off" all night, no long ball and even some inaccuracy with the short RB swing-outs. Any word if his long-term shoulder problems have come back to haunt us as the season drags on? A super win to take advantage of the Denver loss [in Week 11] and another quiet day in the land of the Broncos! They are getting real concerned that they just MIGHT have to play the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, would not that be wonderful? Thanks!
- Larry Breault

Brady has only been on the injury report this season for an ankle injury. It has been quite some time, actually, since he was listed as "Right Shoulder/Probable." I have no reason whatsoever to believe that he's dealing with anything out of the ordinary with his throwing arm or related body parts.

I know it's hard for some fans to believe or accept, but the 37-year-old Brady is getting old. Senescence (natural deterioration with age), in my estimation, is Brady's toughest opponent right now, yet he's even dealing with that better than most QBs who've lasted in the NFL as long as he has. There's no other passer in the league I'd be more comfortable having under center for my team, if I were a coach, than Brady. Even if he is a little "off."
- Erik Scalavino

With the four trades the patriots have made this year, can you please update us on what 2015 draft picks look like now?
- Nick Cabrera

As of this writing, New England still has seven choices in the next NFL Draft: one each in Rounds 1-3, two in Round 4 (one of which comes from Tampa Bay in the Logan Mankins trade), one in the sixth round (from the Jonathan Casillas deal), and a seventh-round pick (from Tennessee as part of the Akeem Ayers swap). The Patriots sent a fifth-rounder to Tampa in the Casillas deal, and their original sixth-round choice went to the Titans for Ayers. The club also had its original seventh-round pick swallowed up by a 2012 trade with St. Louis for wide receiver Greg Salas, who didn't last long in Foxborough. Chances are, there will be more adding and subtracting of draft picks in the next six months, including the arrival of possible compensatory picks. For now, though, that's what the Patriots have.
- Erik Scalavino

You guys are awesome. I read you every week. My question is: If Tim Wright is in the mold of a "motion" TE like [Aaron] Hernandez was, why isn't he employed in the same manner? The Pats were pretty damn good when they had Hernandez/Gronkowski in 2010. Thanks for the weekly facts.
- Roe Clark

Well, New England's offense is pretty darn good right now, Roe, in case you hadn't noticed. And I've been pleased with what I've seen out of Wright so far. Let's not forget, Hernandez's talent was far above that of a fourth-round pick, where the Patriots drafted him. He slipped due to off-field concerns. Wright, by comparison, was undrafted. So, there's certainly a skill disparity between the two players, but Wright is now starting to contribute more and more since arriving in the last week of the preseason in the aforementioned Mankins trade. He's getting comfortable with the offense and has already scored four touchdowns. Not too shabby, I'd say. So, my advice is, be patient with Wright. He might not ever be as impactful as Hernandez was to this offense, but he's showing signs, at least, that he can fit in and do some good things.
- Erik Scalavino

Although the Patriots receivers have found a rhythm, do you think they should bring in Santonio Holmes, and if so, do you think he still has the ability to be a dominant receiver? Isaac Hernandez

Holmes, released by Chicago last week in less than a season there, was never a "dominant" receiver. He only had one 1,000-yard season in his previous eight (four each with the Jets and Steelers). He had periods of productivity, but was never what I would consider an elite player for any significant length of time. A good player, certainly, but no dominant. Complementary, for sure. If New England were struggling at wide receiver right now, I'd consider it, but since they're not, there's no need to bring him in. Holmes reportedly worked out for the Chiefs this week, so, the whole point might be moot, anyway.
- Erik Scalavino

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