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Patriots trade up for TEs Asiasi, Keene in third round

The Patriots traded Rob Gronkowskithis week, a little over a year after he retired, and on Friday night, they selected two potential replacements with two trades.

New England selected UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi with the 91st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday after trading with the Raiders to move up. They weren't done there, as they also selected Virginia Tech's Dalton Keene with the 101st pick after trading up with the rival Jets.

While the Pats got pick No. 101 and Keene, New York got picks No. 125 and 129 and a sixth-rounder next year. The Raiders swap saw Las Vegas garner pick Nos. 100, 139 and 172, while the Pats got No. 91 (Asiasi) and pick No. 159.

Asiasi's college career was a tale of the benefits of proper usage in the right situation. After just eight career receptions at Michigan, the California native transferred back to the West Coast, joining UCLA for his final two years of eligibility. Asiasi took relative advantage of the change, becoming a seam runner and catching 44 passes for 641 yards and four touchdowns in his final season in Westwood.

Asiasi is large, but he's remade his body since moving west. When the tight end left Northern California powerhouse De La Salle High School (Concord, California) for Ann Arbor, he weighed in for his first season at 287 pounds. He's since dropped 30 pounds, coming in at 257 at the combine in February. The weight loss has helped uncover his noticeable burst off the line, which he used to win mismatches against linebackers and smaller defensive backs in 2019.

His speed doesn't fall off after his initial start, either, with the best example coming in the Bruins' rivalry meeting with USC, in which Asiasi found the soft spot in coverage over the middle, caught a pass and sprinted the remaining 53 yards for a score.

Asiasi is an instant mismatch when flexed out and will also line up as an in-line tight end, where he can leak out and immediately attack the middle or run up the sideline and catch higher passes over defenders. He does need to improve his blocking and continue to get comfortable with his frame, which he should use as an advantage to create space and box out defenders.

If any of this sounds familiar, it should. This is exactly what helped Gronkowski compile a future Hall of Fame career. We're not saying Asiasi is headed for a gold jacket, but he is entering an ideal situation for him to blossom into a playmaker.

As for the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Keene, he's a big-bodied target who adds the versatility of being able to also line up at fullback or H-back.

Tight end was a huge need for the Patriots, big enough to trade up and use two picks in the third round.

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