Hernandez is the fourth of New England’s 12 draft picks to sign. Only Philadelphia (six of their 13) and Chicago (all five of theirs) have more rookies signed at this early juncture. This one’s a four-year deal, just like the deals inked by third-rounder Taylor Price, sixth-rounder Ted Larsen, and seventh-rounder Thomas Welch.
Hernandez has been pretty impressive in the team’s spring camps, which makes a lot of sense. The rookie won the Mackey Award last year at Florida, and was considered a first- or second-round talent by most personnel people, but off-field problems caused him to fall precipitously in the draft.
If Hernandez can sort through those, he looks like a good bet to contribute in his rookie year. He was already running with the starters in organized team activities, and seemed to be a focal point of coaches.
And he’s got the versatility to line up all over the formation — even splitting outside the numbers at times, while also getting reps at fullback and as an in-line tight end, during workouts thus far.
He and second-rounder Rob Gronkowski join veteran Alge Crumpler in the competition for playing time at the completely overhauled position. Should be an interesting battle for playing time there.
Hernandez hasn’t addressed his off-field issues with the media as of yet.
The Boston Herald was first to report on Hernandez’s deal.