Rob Gronkowski was perhaps the greatest receiving tight end in NFL history, and the Patriots will miss him now that he’s retired. But even when he wasn’t running a route, Gronk was an integral part of the Patriots’ passing game.
Gronkowski was also a great pass blocker, and Mike Reiss of ESPN notes that Gronk may have been the best pass-blocking tight end in the league.
According to ESPN’s “pass-block win rate” stat — which gives blockers a “win” every time they hold their pass block for at least 2.5 seconds — Gronk was tied with Josh Hill of the Saints as the No. 1 pass blocking tight ends in the NFL. Gronk won on 98 percent of his pass blocks, which was also better than any offensive lineman in the NFL last season (although obviously tight ends are rarely matched one-on-one with an opposing team’s best pass rusher).
Gronkowski’s primary role was as a receiver, but even if other Patriots can make up for the catches that will be lost to his retirement, his contributions as a blocker will be hard to replace.