Last week, on the 16th anniversary of the day Tom Brady was drafted by the Patriots, we took a look back at what head coach Bill Belichick said in the immediate aftermath of that seemingly meaningless 199th selection on the final day of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Today we'll take a similar look at a guy whose draft selection was a bit more notable than Brady's – at least if you consider a stage filled with family members going ballistic to be notable.
Six years ago today Belichick used the 42nd pick of the 2010 NFL Draft – a second-round selection – on Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski. The big pass-catcher had missed his final college season with a back injury and was seen as medical risk with huge upside potential.
But don't take our word for it, read below as Belichick breaks down what he was thinking in trading up a couple spots to grab "kind of a fun loving guy who enjoys having a good time" who would go on the revolutionize the tight end position and live up to his coach's initial impressions while doing it. (And, once again, thanks to the Patriots PR department and the many people over the year's who've handled the thankless duties of transcribing press conferences.)
Belichick: So Rob Gronkowski, certainly an interesting player. Excellent size, very well thought of down there by Coach [Mike] Stoops and his staff. We visited him a couple weeks ago. I think as we saw there, in New York, he's kind of a fun loving guy who enjoys having a good time, but he plays like that, too. He plays with a good attitude. He's aggressive. He seems to be having fun out there and he was a good playmaker for Arizona in the 2008 season.
Q: Was there a point where you came to a comfort level with Gronkowski's medicals?
BB: Yeah, when our doctors said he was OK. That was the point.
Q: What kind of challenge will not having 2009 have on him and maybe making sure he was going to be the same guy in 2010 that he was in 2008?
BB: I think you can see the workout that he still has the same skills he had in 2008. I don't think that's a question and our doctors feel comfortable with his rehab and where he's at now. We go on their evaluations and recommendations. We have a deal. I don't diagnose with the players and they don't call plays.
Check out our favorite photos of Rob Gronkowski from the 2014-15 Championship season.
Q: How high did you rate Rob Gronkowski's pass catching skills and how might you employ those going forward?
BB: He has good receiving skills. In 2008, Arizona used him both at the conventional tight end position and then also split out. They put him out of the formation, sometimes on the strong side. They also put him out on the weak side by himself back there and they throw it to him, particularly in the red area on slants and individual cuts back there. And he's a big guy. He's a hard matchup for a defensive back. He's 6-5, 265, or whatever he is. He's big and he plays big and he has a big frame. A lot of times he just boxes them out and they stuff it in there to him and he's just a hard guy to cover. He's a strong runner with the ball in his hands. He's run through some tackles, made some yards after the catch. They used him in the passing game. They used him in a number of different ways – deep routes, middle read routes and also some individual isolation stuff and then the conventional passing tree we see most tight ends run. I thought he did a good job of that in 2008.
Q: It was hard to see on TV, but when you picked Gronkowski, they showed the commissioner checking on something and it seemed like there was a long time before the pick was made. Was there something delayed?
BB: Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what happened there in New York. We talked to Oakland and we made the trade with them to move up a couple spots and I know the clock was running and it was a little bit late on the clock. We were hustling that in, but I think we got it in on time.
Q: Since you've been in New England have you had anyone that you would consider similar to Gronkowski?
BB: I'd say Kyle Brady. Kyle was maybe a little bit bigger, but that kind of frame. He ran well, big target, big physical guy; a guy that's not a tackle, but not too far from looking like a tackle.
Q: Does Gronkowski give you an added ability in the red zone?
BB: We'll see. He did for Arizona. I think he was, as I said, he was a pretty effective guy for them and at times they put him out on the weak side of the formation down inside the 20 or I saw him down there a few times on the goal line. But you could tell they were kind of isolating him and letting him kind of body up on some of those guys and stuff it in there to him. But he caught the ball well and seemed to have a pretty good sense of how to get himself between the defender and the quarterback and just take the ball away from the defender.