In response to rtuinila's comment:
In response to PatsEng's comment:
I don't know yet. Welker, Hernandez, and Gronk were a very strong trio and Lloyd was better than average as a 4th option. Now this group has a chance to be better because I think they might be deeper but looking at it -
Welker -> Amendola: Provided health this could be a wash
Gronk -> recovering Gronk: Again provided health and recovery this could be a wash or Gronk could regress
Hernandez -> Sudfeld/Ford/Ballard?: Now I'm really big on Sudfeld and Ford looks like a decent find but Hernandez was one of the best receiving TE's last year. It's hard to replace him
Lloyd -> Dobson: Say what you will about Lloyd but he did have a good year as a 4th option. Now Dobson has ability to surpass Lloyd but Dobson is still a rook and will need to get a feel for the game. Not many rook WR's are great out of the gate and giving what Lloyd gave last year might be a bit much this early on
Branch -> Thompkins: Another case of a rook replacing a solid vet. Branch was alright at times but Thompkins has the potential to provide much more. The question is can the rook come in and give right away.
I will say given health and talent this group could be better than last year but on paper right now last years crop were better receivers, at least until the rooks prove what they are capable of
I swear by lil 10 pound bearded baby Jesus
You forgot to take into consideration Gronk could be even better and not just a wash.
Hern would have been one of the best last year if he hadn't had one of the highest drop percentages in the league. To me those drive killing drops brought his stock right back down to just average. He also had a penchant for running right at the nearest defender, even if he had to go east-west instead of north-south, to try to juke the guy out of his socks. Problem is he usually got tackled instead of running to daylight and gaining another 6-10 yards. If Sudfeld doesn't drop a league leading number of passes thrown his way, he will easily surpass Herns contribution.
Dobson has already proven he is much more willing to fight for the ball than Lloyd ever dreamed of so there is an excellent chance he will be a considerable improvement over Lloyd. On top of that Brady is much more willing to throw in Dobsons direction than he was in Lloyds.
A Branch that couldn't get separation is not better than either of the rookies, at worst it is a wash
I agree with that entire second paragraph. I don't get the infatuation with Hern's talent - I thought he was overrated - for all the "he is a matchup nightmare" stuff, he was just as likely to run right into the defender and go down, drop it, get hurt or fumble it. He looked stiff to me for a guy that was supossed to be this receiving wizard. He got hurt (regularly). And let's not forget he offered little as a blocker - and when they tried to run the ball with him he got hurt (right away), so that little dynamic dimension you had with him was not going to happen. If this guy lost one single step of speed with age, he was going to be useless.
I think Hern was going to morph into a often injured, over priced 40-60 catch a year guy that we were always going to look to cut for cap purposes. He was always going to get knicked up and it was always going to slow him enough that it would ruin the chance of him being special in this offense. He is the Terry Glenn of tight ends.