As tight end Aaron Hernandez faces tough questions regarding the death of Odin Lloyd and, eventually, the alleged shooting of Alexander Bradley, the Patriots are facing heavy criticism for taking a chance on Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and giving him a $41 million contract last year.
The Pats took a pair of calculated risks with tight ends in 2010, drafting Rob Gronkowski in round two and Hernandez in round four. For Gronk, the concern was his health. For Hernandez, off-field issues provided a red flag. Through 2011, it appeared that the Pats got lucky as to both, prompting the team to give each of them new, big-money deals. In recent weeks, that luck has run out.
Gantt pointed out earlier today that Hernandez’s history is now being revisited, adding to things the Pats knew or should have known before picking and then paying him. On the other side of the coin, as reported by Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, is news that Hernandez generated a perfect score on a predraft psychological profile.
It’s not clear what that means — other than perhaps that a poor correlation exists between the test and reality. If, after all, the test is aimed at predicting potential problems, Hernandez shouldn’t have generated a perfect score, if it turns out that he has broken any laws or violated the league’s conduct policy.
Regardless, plenty of teams opted not to put too much stock in that test. Otherwise Hernandez would have been picked much higher than he was. The Ravens, for example, drafted Ed Dickson in round three. The decision to pass on Hernandez for Dickson when taking a tight end may have looked, to borrow Joe Linta’s term, dumb before this week.
Now, it looks like yet another good move by the defending NFL champions.
For the Patriots, it’ll simply be just another mistake, if Hernandez ends up being unavailable for all or part of 2013 or beyond. Winning three Super Bowls in four years gives a team license to roll the dice that way.
And coach Bill Belichick has rolled the bones plenty of times in recent years, from Albert Haynesworth to Chad Johnson to most recently Tim Tebow. Plenty of Belichick’s decisions didn’t work out. Hernandez and Gronkowski could end up being a pair of moves that worked out so well at first that the mistakes were compounded by the investment of millions.