NFL Draft Rumors: Patriots Host Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Potential Aaron Hernandez Replacement

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Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Washington Huskies tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

There has been much speculation that the New England Patriots will replace Aaron Hernandez in May’s draft. Perhaps their guy is Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

The team hosted Seferian Jenkins this week for a pre-draft visit, according to NESN.com.

Patriots insider Doug Kyed noted Seferian-Jenkins is not only a big-bodied pass-catcher but an above-average blocker.

Seferian-Jenkins is known for his receiving skills and blocking prowess. He was recruited out of high school as a tight end and offensive tackle and can line up inline or split out wide. Seferian-Jenkins was a big red zone presence during his three-year career with the Huskies.

Sound familiar?

Seferian-Jenkins won the John Mackey Award this past season, the honor given to the top tight end in college football. Seferian-Jenkins hauled in 36 passes for 450 yards and eight touchdowns for Washington, and now the 6-foot-6, 262-pound tight end could be a second-round possibility for the Patriots.

New England’s offense took a step back in 2013 with Hernandez imprisoned and Rob Gronkowski sidelined for most of the season due to injuries. Tom Brady had to rely on a young receiving corps and a wildly inconsistent running game, but much of the offseason there have rumors the team wants to offense to return to the two-tight end system.

Seferian-Jenkins is a bigger target than Hernandez, and in terms of frame size compares more favorably to Gronk. Also like Gronk, Seferian-Jenkins has battled a foot injury this winter. He underwent left foot surgery back in February to repair a hairline stress fracture, which caused him to sit out most of the drills during the NFL Scouting Combine and consequently making him a likely Round 2 selection.

He has since pronounced himself 100-percent healthy.

The Patriots have also been linked to Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, but the team would likely have to spend the 29th overall pick to nab him. Aside from tight end, the Pats have needs along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as safety, which could be addressed in the first round, leaving Seferian-Jenkins as a target in Round 2.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.