When it comes to assessing rookies during training camp and the preseason it’s best not to overreact overblow oversell or overhype. Only the task becomes difficult when you come across guys like Zach Sudfeld. ESPN analyst Sal Paolantonio went so far as to dub him “Baby Gronk” after watching the 6-foot-7 260-pound tight end torch the Eagles defense during the lead-up to the preseason opener in Philadelphia. With Sudfeld doing more of the same against Tampa Bay during joint practices and again in Friday night’s win against the Buccaneers — he caught a two-point conversion from Tom Brady and a 22-yard TD pass from Ryan Mallett — the nickname isn’t likely to change. Nor will the buzz for the likeable undrafted rookie out of Nevada. Now we’re not ready to cast Sudfeld’s bronze bust in Canton just yet as Bill Parcells often warned against. But at the very least the long-haired kid wearing No. 44 in your Patriots program is worthy of note based on what he’s done the past few weeks. For starters if this kid continues to be a threat catching the football a legitimate red-zone option and also a blocking presence there will be less of a need for Gronkowski to rush back from June back surgery. That would be critical because the most important X-factor for the Patriots offense is getting the Pro Bowl tight end back at 100 percent. “People are going to say what they’re going to say” Sudfeld said after chuckling at the mention of the “Baby Gronk” nickname. “All I can really do is come out here and work. I have a long way to go a lot of work still to do. I just have to focus on what I can do.” Sudfeld has shown he can run the seam routes and option routes that made Gronkowski such a devastating mismatch for linebackers safeties or whomever the defense threw at him. He’s also shown to have a great pair of hands as evidenced by his touchdown catch in Friday night’s game — a ball he managed to pull back in after it was tipped out of his hands. Given his size he can also play next to the tackle as an in-line type blocking tight end. While he’s not in the same league as Gronk when it comes to being an elite blocker it certainly was impressive watching Sudfeld haul downfield to provide the final block to spring LeGarrette Blount into the end zone for a rushing touchdown against the Eagles.
Patriots rookie free agent Zach Sudfeld fills big void
Boston Herald | Aug 19