Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Dan Gronkowski
Dan Gronkowski (TE)
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 255
College: Maryland
Conference: ACC
Hometown: Amherst, NY
High School: Williamsville North
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Detroit Lions
Round: 7
Pick (Overall): 46 (255)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: Gronkowski is a big, strong guy who ran pretty well at the combine. He comes out of a good program in Maryland and is a good blocking tight end. He's the second tight end taken by the Lions after Brandon Pettigrew (Round 1, No. 20 overall).
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

With head coach Ralph Friedgen turning over the offense to coordinator James Franklin, the new West Coast offensive system saw Gronkowski emerge as a quality receiver. Already regarded as one of college football's premier blockers, the Terrapin Council team leader was never really a focal point of the team's aerial attack during his first three seasons, but that all changed during his final campaign.


With Franklin returning to run the offense, Gronkowski saw plenty of action as the safety valve target for the Terps. "I think having a new offensive coordinator has really added a new excitement to our program," Friedgen said. "I like our staff. They relate to the kids well and I think the kids are having more fun." Franklin was the offensive coordinator at Kansas State the last two years after spending one season with the Green Bay Packers.


Gronkowski's blocking prowess is the byproduct of his incredible strength. The former prep quarterback registered the second-highest strength index on the team in spring 2008 testing. He also boasts a career-best squat of 635 pounds, the second-best figure by a Maryland tight end, topped only by the 685-pound lift from Vernon Davis (49ers). In each of his last four offseasons, the tight end received Iron Terp honors, a recognition for his outstanding performances in the training room.


Having received his master's in Marketing after just three years at Maryland, Gronkowski comes from a sports-oriented family. His older brother, Gordie, Jr., was a first baseman for Jacksonville University from 2003-06. His brother, Chris, was a teammate at Maryland for two seasons (2005-06), where he played fullback.


Chris later transferred to the University of Arizona, sitting out the 2007 season under NCAA transfer rules. He is presently competing as a H-Back for the Wildcats, playing alongside their younger brother, Rob, a Freshman All-American tight end in 2007.


Gronkowski was a multi-sport standout at Williamsville North High School. He earned four letters in football, playing for head coach Mike Mammoliti. He started as a wide receiver during his sophomore campaign, setting a school single-season record with 539 yards receiving.


He switched to quarterback for his final two campaigns, completing 122 of 207 passes (58.9 percent) for 1,407 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior. His completion, yardage and touchdown totals were all school annual records. He was named League Offensive Most Valuable Player and was a Western New York All-Academic team selection. He also added four letters in baseball, three in basketball and one in hockey.


Gronkowski turned down scholarship offers from Arizona, Purdue and Syracuse, joining Maryland in 2003 as a grey-shirt. He deferred 2004 spring enrollment to join the team in time for the January 2004 Gator Bowl clash vs. West Virginia. He spent the 2004 season redshirting on the scout team, where the new tight end was a Scout Team Player of the Week pick vs. Duke and Virginia.


In 2005, Gronkowski appeared in five games as a reserve, as both of his catches, good for 37 yards, led to Terrapin scoring drives (one set up a field goal, the other, a fourth-down conversion, led to a Maryland touchdown). As a sophomore, he shared tight end duties with Joey Haynos, starting seven games at the traditional tight end position and two more at H-Back. He caught just two passes for 11 yards, but one resulted in his first career touchdown and the other set up a Maryland field goal. It was his stellar blocking that caught pro scouts' notice, as he registered 70 knockdowns/key blocks that included 11 timely hits downfield and 10 others that resulted in Terrapin touchdowns.


As a junior, Gronkowski started the team's first eight games before a left knee sprain vs. Clemson would sideline him for two contests. He would return to play in a reserve role for the final three games. The C.P. "Lefty" McIntosh Public Service Award recipient and Academic All-Atlantic Coast Conference choice also received Academic All-American consideration.


He pulled in seven passes for 66 yards (9.4 avg), as five of those grabs produced first downs. Three of his receptions were for 10 yards or longer, as he set up two touchdown drives and three other series that ended with Terps' field goals with his key catches. He delivered nine touchdown-resulting blocks, 10 blocks downfield and a total of 48 knockdowns, grading 86.63 percent for blocking consistency, the highest grade of any tight end in the nation during the season.


Gronkowski earned Academic All-District II first-team accolades and was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention. The recipient of the team's A.V. Williams Award for outstanding sportsmanship, he also earned the George Boutselis Memorial Award, given to the player with the highest grade point average, earning that honor for the second straight season in 2008.


As a senior, Gronkowski started 12 games. After catching just 11 passes in his first three seasons, the Terrapin Council member hauled in a career-high 29 passes, good for 287 yards (9.9 avg) and three touchdowns. He also continued his excellence as a blocker, as he registered 66 knockdowns, coming up with 11 touchdown-resulting blocks.


High School

Attended Williamsville (N.Y.) High School, playing football for head coach Mike Mammoliti...Earned four letters in football, starting at wide receiver during his sophomore campaign...Set a school single-season record with 539 yards receiving...Switched to quarterback for his final two campaigns, completing 122 of 207 passes (58.9 percent) for 1,407 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior...His completion, yardage and touchdown totals were all school annual records...Named League Offensive Most Valuable Player and was a Western New York All-Academic team selection...Added four letters in baseball, three in basketball and one in hockey...Member of the National Honor Society.


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Analysis

Positives: Looks the part. Good height, and even weight distribution. Good initial pop at the line of scrimmage as a blocker. Good hand placement. Good upper body strength to lock on and has the leg drive to knock defenders off the ball. Good lateral agility and balance to stay square with the defender. Good effort at the second level to block downfield. Uses his hands well to get off the line of scrimmage and into his routes. Presents a big target to the quarterback and knows where the holes in the zone are located. Secure receiver who can take a pop and hang on.


Negatives: Lacks the preferred athleticism for the position. Only a short yardage target in the passing game. Slow off the line of scrimmage. Lumbers downfield and struggles to sink his hips and generate any explosion out of his breaks. Lacks the frame to add much more weight.


Compares To: STEVE HEIDEN, Cleveland -- Like Heiden, Gronkowski's athleticism fails to translate to the football field. He has impressive timed speed, but lumbers getting off the line of scrimmage, negating his effectiveness on intermediate patterns. He is a physical blocker with good hands for the short-area tosses, but anything outside of controlled routes makes him a liability.


Injury Report

2007: Suffered what first appeared to be a left knee anterior cruciate ligament sprain vs. Clemson (10/27), but the injury was later diagnosed as a medial collateral sprain that would prevent him from playing vs. North Carolina (11/03) and Boston College (11/10). He returned to play in a reserve role for the team's final three contests.


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