A continuing series looking at how the Patriots could fill positions through the NFL Draft, April 29 to May 1.

The cupboard was bare. That’s why the Patriots traded up — twice — in the 2020 NFL Draft to select tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.

Following that season, it was clear that the Patriots needed more help at tight end after their group was the least productive in the NFL. That’s why the Pats this offseason signed Jonnu Smith to a four-year, $50-million contract and Hunter Henry to a three-year, $37.5-million deal. In 48 hours, the Pats added the top two tight ends available in free agency after drafting a pair of tight ends a year ago.

The cupboard certainly isn’t bare anymore. If anything, the Pats head into the 2021 season with some of the best tight end depth in the league (Matt LaCosse also returns). One could argue that Smith and Henry represent the best tight end duo in the NFL. For those reasons, the Patriots don’t need a tight end in this upcoming draft.

Does that mean they won’t draft one?

Never say never. This draft has several lower-round prospects who could add depth — especially on the practice squad — to the position and special teams.

Here are six players who fit the mold:

Jacob Harris, UCF

Harris fits the mold at either receiver or tight end. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he could add some weight to his current status at 219 pounds. His athletic traits, however, are off the chart, as his 40-yard-dash time of 4.39 seconds, his vertical leap at 41 inches, broad jump at 133 inches and his 3-cone time of 6.54 seconds put him in the 99th percentile. He caught 30 passes for 539 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He's a special teams standout with 10 career special teams tackles. He's a bit older at 24. Harris met with the Patriots virtually and is a projected fourth- or fifth-round pick.

Brock Wright, Notre Dame

Wright’s numbers won’t pop out at you, but he hits average Patriots traits for size (6-foot-4), weight (257), hand size (10 inches), 40 time (4.62), bench (26 reps of 225 pounds), broad jump (118) and shuttle time (4.25 seconds). Wright wasn’t used much in Notre Dame’s offense — catching seven passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. He was primarily a blocking tight end and he also lined up as a fullback. He contributed as a core special teamer for Notre Dame on coverage and field goal units. Wright is projected as an undrafted free agent.

Zach Davidson, Central Missouri

A Division II prospect, Davidson is one of the best athletic fits at tight end — hitting marks for height (6-foot-6), 40 time (4.62), vertical (37.5), broad jump (117), 3-cone (6.95) and shuttle time (4.26). He’s also the most interesting tight end prospect because of his versatility. Davidson was his team's starting punter, earning All-America honors in 2017 and 2019. He also started at tight end, catching 40 passes for 894 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. His 2020 season was canceled. He’s considered a seventh-round prospect.

Hunter Long, Boston College

Long hits Patriots' marks with his height (6-foot-5), weight (253), 40 time (4.63), bench press (24), broad jump (121) and shuttle time (4.24). Long earned second-team All-America honors and First-team All-ACC honors last season. He led FBS tight ends with 57 receptions to go with 685 yards and five touchdowns. He also led Boston College in receiving in 2019. He’s from Exeter, N.H., and is projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round.

Ben Mason, Michigan

Mason has been playing at the fullback position but his athleticism jumps off the page. He hits Patriots' traits with his height (6-foot-3), 40 time (4.72), vertical (37.5), bench press (29), broad jump (117) and 3-cone (9.69). He is said to be a violent lead blocker and was voted by teammates as Michigan's "Toughest Player of the Year" in 2017 an 2019. He was a captain last year. He played defensive tackle in 2019. Mason also was a core special teamer with 14 career special teams tackles. He’s a projected fifth-round pick.

Noah Gray, Duke

Gray hits Patriots' traits with his size (6-foot-3), 40 time (4.55), vertical (35), broad jump (115) and 3-cone (6.83). In 2019, Gray led Duke in catches with 51 to go with 392 yards and three touchdowns, earning Second-team All-ACC honors. He caught 29 passes for 285 passes with two scores in 10 games last year. He was a team captain. Gray is said to be a good blocker with enough athleticism to line up in the slot or outside. He grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts. He is a projected seventh-round pick.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Tight end's not a Patriots' need in this draft

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