In response to pezz4pats' comment:
It's just that sometimes TALENT is needed. Not seeing a whole lot of it right now and that was before the Hernandez mess.
I see talent, just not proven talent. I actually like Dobson and Boyce, and I like Sudfeld too. If I have time, I'm actually going to prep a look at what he did for Nevada in the pistol offense, and what NE does/has done from the Erhardt-Perkins offense, and how they actually blend really well, making it little surprise that he is already getting first team reps over other kids. And Amendola will fit.
I think a comparison to 2006 is in order. They came into that season having drafted Maroney, Chad Jackson, David Thomas, and Garrett Mills. They had recently jettisoned Givens and Branch, and were obviously not thrilled with Ben Watson's ball control issues and poor hands. Dillon, the star piece, was coming off an injury and to some was in decline.
OK, so all of those players were busts. Fine. It's history.
Here are four reasons why NE is much better off:
1.) I do not think Dobson, Boyce, and Sudfeld will all be busts. I think NE gets two players out of that, and possible a bona-fide star. It's a better haul, in my opinion, by a long shot, than Jack, Thomas, and Mills. I think Dobson and Boyce are far better selections at WR than anyone they've taken since they took Branch and Givens. They aren't glorified KRs like Tate or Bethel Johnson that fans laud because of their versatility, but get analysts scratching their head because they never showed anything much at WR in college. They aren't "value" people like Taylor Price from DIVII schools who have other worldly triangle numbers, but who played in high-school caliber offenses. And they are not Florida WRs, who are usually a product of the spread-multiple system. They are two guys, brought here to catch passes. It's what they did in college, and what they are expected to do here.
2.) Gronk has a way, way better prognosis going forward than Dillon who was coming off an inury, but was an aging center-piece. A 32 year old running back is basically cooked. A TE coming off a broken arm is not. As long as they let his injury heal this time, Gronk will be Gronk down the road.
3.) Amendola is really a tremendous "fit" here. He has experience with the Erhardt-Perkins system from McD's tenure in St Louis. He has the skill-set that NE has always used well (Brown, Branch, Welker, et al). And he should meld well with Brady with all of the extra work they've been putting in this off-season. In 2006 NE didn' have a single guy that season that seemed to fit as well, even half way through the season.
4.) The RBs are better, much better, than 2006. Dillon was slow and aged. Maroney was a flat out bust. He had a decent average per carry, but he was a stupid runner, and would lose yardage too often. He may have been capable of getting Ridley's 1200 yards ... but not with the same effect. Ridley earns his yards, Maroney gambled for his causing the team to lose yardage. That doesn't even address the effect Vereen could have on this offense if he can pick up his assignemnts well enough to get 15-20 touches. he is like lightning in a bottle with the ball in his hands ... the Texans game last January proved what he can do to a top-notch defense. Maybe he never "gets it" well enough to move past being a sub, but the way he was in that game was not a flash in the pan ... it's what he brings to the table if you can make him a focal point of your offense.
So most of this focuses on Gronk.
I actually don't have any concerns about Gronk returning at full strength. The major injury here was a broken arm that was a freak injury. The discectomy was something that wasn't really necessary and was planned for *next* offseason as a maintenance surgery (the kind of thing OL and TEs go through all the time). The question is will there be another injury? Well, he could play a whole season or two, three games, or a whole career without another significant injury. He came into the leauge and played a ton of games before hurting his foot.
But make no mistake: in 2013 he will be back. He will be back at full strength. He will be back before the 6th week. Gronk has about 10 weeks recovery time scheduled. As long as there are no setbacks, and the team seems optimistic he can start trainging before that even, that that puts him in line to come off the PUP before the Aug 31 deadline that would keep him off the roster until week 7.
And that is where it should focus: Gronkowski. In short, after Brady he IS New England's offense. He is a devastating blocker, a devastating RZ target, and a devastating seam target. He makes the run game work and he makes the passing game work.
When Hernandez was out ... NE was 5-1 and Brady chucked 14TDs, zero picks, and had a 113 rating, and NE's sole loss was the missed FG game against Baltimore, which had nothing to do with Hernandez being gone as the offense scored 30 points. It was just another defensive meltdown. Without Gronk NE was NE was 4-2 and Brady had an 84.6 rating with 12 TDs and 7 picks. I know part of this is skewed by the two desperation picks in the final 5 minutes against Baltimore, but it falls in line with what you expect. Brady has about a 90 rating and NE has about a 4-3 record in games that Gronk is not there or is injured. Considering this team has lost only something like 8 games the past couple of seasons, and almost half of them are when Gronkowski isn't an option, you have to realize that he is the straw that stirs the drink for this offense after Brady. All of the records set, and gaudy numbers after Moss left, the improved rushing attack etc, all if can be attributed to this kid.
As he goes, the rest of the targets go.
This kind of comes back to what I've said (and been dressed down over) about Welker or Hernandez being expensive spare parts for each other. Losing Hernandez is a huge blow if you assume NE suffers another injury, but as it stands Welker and Hernandez ran a lot of duplicate assignments. There are only so many reps over the middle of the field. Losing Hernandez is as much a hit to NE's depth (perhaps moreso) as he is to the front line starters.
Now, two things about two of these "ifs".
"IF" a dynamic outside target emerges it's *better* than having Hernandez.
"IF" the defense does improve a little from last season continuing an upward trend it's better than having Hernandez.
Having a team that relies almost solely on its defense or its offense is like putting all your chips on black ... if NE's offense is slightly diminished, but it's defense is slightly improved ... it is a NET win in my mind ... because it's like hedging your bet.
I will say the same about the edge player. Let's say Boyce emerges as a legitimate perimeter threat ... not a guy who can be old-reliable catching 60-70 balls, but doing little else, but a guy that forces defenses to protect the edge and the deeper portion of the feild, it's a NET win even if he isn't quite the threat Hernandez was. Even if you can only get 50 balls his way. It's a net win. It's a win because it forces the defense to protect more real-estate, rather than merely cramming another quality target between the hash marks and from 15 and down. And maybe, just maybe, out of these draft selections they will get a bona-fide outside threat like a young Branch/Givens/Patten were, or like Moss/Gaffney were.
I get it, it's real easy to IF back about Amendola's and Gronk's reliabilty, that is where the concern goes. But you can file me into the NE isn't taking as huge a hit as Hernandez's talent would indicate camp. They'll be able to do the things they did with Welker and Hern with Amendola and Edelman. Maybe not 100% but close enough.