Draft of Dickson, Pitta looking better by the day

Draft of Dickson, Pitta looking better by the day
June 23, 2013, 9:30 pm

In the first four rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots drafted two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowksi and Aaron Hernandez. For the first three years, the Patriots duo set the standard, and they looked to be two of the most shrewd picks of that draft.

But that has changed dramatically in the past month.

Meanwhile, another team also took two tight ends in the first four rounds that year -- the Ravens. They selected Ed Dickson in the third round, and Dennis Pitta in the fourth -- one pick after the Patriots took Hernandez.

The Ravens' picks are looking better and better.

There's no doubt that Gronkowski and Hernandez have produced more than the Ravens pair -- or anyone else -- over their first three years in the league  (although when it comes to Super Bowl rings, it's worth noting that the score is Ravens tight end duo 1, Patriots tight end duo 0).

The receiving totals for Gronkowski (187 catches, 2,663 yards, 38 TDs) and Hernandez (175-1956, 18 TDs), dwarf those of Dickson (86-905, 6 TDs) and Pitta (102-1075, 10 TDs). But the production of the Patriots duo might have come to a grinding halt.

Gronkowski is coming off back surgery -- this after a broken arm that became infected --  and it was his injuries at Arizona that likely knocked Gronkowski into the second round. Gronkowski is pointing toward training camp for his return, but he is likely to start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

The situation with Hernandez is potentially much more serious, as authorities try to sort out what, if anything, Hernandez knows about the shooting death of Odin Lloyd last week. Even if the authorities do not ultimately charge him, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to suspent Hernandez via the league's personal conduct policy.

Hernandez had well-documented off-field issues while at Florida, which led a player many viewed as a second-round talent to drop to the fourth round. The Patriots selected him at No. 113 overall -- one spot before the Ravens took Pitta.

Would the Ravens have taken Hernandez had he been there at 114? We'll never know. What is known is this: When the Ravens had a chance to take a tight end in the third round, they took Dickson, not Hernandez.

For the past couple of years, that looked like a highly questionable choice. But it's looking better by the day.