Rob Gronkowski was a long shot to become one of the best tight ends in NFL history. It was a longer shot he would end up with the Patriots after an inauspicious predraft visit.
“Rob was kind of a shot in the dark,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on NFL Network while introducing the tight ends on the NFL’s All-Time Team. “He came up on his predraft visit, had a bad visit. We put him in a room, came back and he was asleep on the floor. Didn’t make a very good impression. . . . Like, oh, boy.”
The Patriots traded up to draft Gronkowski 42nd overall in 2010. He retired after last season, presumably finishing his career with 521 catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.
“He got off to a slow start there,” Belichick said. “Went to Arizona. Didn’t do much as a freshman. Had a decent year as a sophomore, caught 30 passes, and then missed his junior year with back surgery and then came out early for the draft. So there wasn’t much to go on. We traded up for him and just kind of bet that he would come through, and he certainly did big time.”
Gronkowski was one of five tight ends on the All-Time Team, joining Mike Ditka, Tony Gonzalez, John Mackey and Kellen Winslow.