Re: How is Jake Ballard looking now?
posted at 6/26/2013 4:12 PM EDT
Well, he certainly isn't as dynamic as Hernandez, but he is a solid #2 if healthy. Pats will take a hit in most fields, but then again, if Ballard is healthy and the starter (he is the putative #2 in a 2TE base offense) then they DO gain something in blocking.
They'll have to adjust, because Ballard isn't going to be able to run the psuedo-WR routes AH had been filling out, but they will be able to keep a lot of the traditional 2TE routes intact.
Here is an interesting piece from Matt Williamson on the topic.
I'm actually more interested in the other of the walking wounded TE crew, Zach Sudfeld. The way he was used in the pistol (as a downfield WR, sometimes out of the backfield, and with a lot of blocking assignments) is close to what NE does with a lot of its TE assignements, many of which are reassigned FB/H-back routes of yore. He did have six different surguries at Nevada, but he is also a great athlete (unlike Ballard) who starred in a number of other sports like tennis, track, and basketball in high school.
Ballard is solid fundamentally, and is a ho-hum athlete at 6'5" 255 ... but Sudfeld's 6'7" with 4.74 speed can't be taught, and he had a great breakout final season in college that might just be a taste of what he can do.
The fact that Reiss and a handful of others notice him sort of drawing attention in camp is promising as well.