New England Patriots: NFL Draft Options at Tight End

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BOSTON (WEEI.com) -- The New England Patriots are not scheduled to select until No. 32 overall in the NFL Draft, but don't be surprised if that were to change.

According to a source, the Patriots have had preliminary discussions about trading up in the first round on April 25. The source indicated the Patriots are looking at the 15-20 range. If the Patriots were to do this, using the draft pick value chart, it would likely take their first-round pick (No. 32), a second-round pick (No. 64) and a third-round pick (No. 101).

Considering their lack of moves in free agency, perhaps a big splash via the draft is needed, especially when it comes to replacing tight end Rob Gronkowski. The two best tight ends in the draft -- Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant -- likely will be off the board by the time pick No. 32 rolls around, so trading up would be their only way to land one of them.

Potential teams to keep an eye on for trades: the New York Giants (No. 17), Tennessee Titans (No. 19) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 21). 

After speaking with The Athletic's Scott Dochterman, who covers Iowa football on The Not Sunday podcast, we feel even more strongly that Hockenson would be the better fit for New England. He's more of a duel-threat tight end; Fant is more of a receiving tight end. In addition, from a personality standpoint, Hockenson seems to fit the Patriots culture more so than Fant.

Dochterman pointed out Hockenson's reliable hands, and said he can't remember a pass Hockenson dropped during his Iowa career. In two years at the school, he finished with 73 receptions for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns. In three years, Fant totaled 78 catches for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns.

With 12 overall selections (and undrafted rookies), there just isn't enough space on the Patriots roster. This makes it even more certain the team will trade draft picks so they don't come away with 12 players. This could be moving up, trading picks for players, or even trading picks this year for picks next year.

By Ryan Hannable