17: Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez
With their use of two tight end formations, the New England Patriots were the team that sparked an offensive revolution in the NFL. The basis for much of that success is Aaron Hernandez.
He's not a great blocker, but he is as a matchup nightmare in the passing game for opposing defenses. He's too big for most defensive backs, and too quick for most linebackers and safeties. Whether he's lining up tight to the line, in the slot, split out wide, or even in the backfield, the Patriots are able to get more out of him because they know how to get those mismatches. Hernandez's versatility to line up in so many spots and be an offensive weapon makes the Patriots tougher to defend.
He battled through an early high-ankle sprain last season, but 10 days between games seemed to help as he found stride after Thanksgiving. He had 32 receptions for 304 yards and three touchdowns in the final five regular season games. He added another 15 receptions for 168 yards in the playoffs.
There's a lot of uncertainty for the Patriots offense in 2013, but they could ride him to big things if he can stay healthy for 16 games for the first time in his career.
Did you know? Despite missing 10 games over the past three years, Hernandez ranks sixth in receptions and fifth in receiving touchdowns among all tight ends.