Meet The Patriots: Tight End AJ Derby

Philip Tor | Pats Militia

The NFL preseason is the biggest tease in all of sports. Fans have been saying this since the creation of the NFL. Even though we have to we have to wait 4 LONG weeks o finally witness some legit football, the preseason does have some benefits and good storylines to listen and watch out for. Fans get a good look at emerging young players and players with great back stories. Through the first two games this preseason, My favorite player to watch has been Tight End AJ Derby who was drafted in the 6th round (202nd overall) by the Patriots.

New England Patriots tight end A.J. Derby (86) makes a catch during an NFL football training camp practice, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots tight end A.J. Derby (86) makes a catch during an NFL football training camp practice, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Derby has been a pleasant surprise to Patriots fans and a player that has shined on the field. In game 1 against the NO Saints, Derby had 3 receptions for 47 yards. In  game 2 against the Chicago Bears, AJ led all receivers with 6 Receptions for 71 yards and his first professional touchdown.

That performance got people talking about Derby’s chances of making the 53-man roster. For the past 3 seasons, Belichick has carried just 3 tight ends on his final roster. We already know Gronk and recently acquired Martellus Bennett are going to make the final roster, which means the last spot will be either Derby, former Eagles and Jaguars TE Clay Harbor. Harbor has more experience than Derby (6 Seasons). The blocking factor is really irrelevant in the comparison because in the Belichick offense, he rarely uses blocking tight ends. He will usually bring in an extra O-Lineman (Cameron Fleming typically) to block on the end.

The advantages Derby has over Harbor is simply his explosiveness. He jumps off the line of scrimmage and uses all of his 6″5 frame to make catches other players can’t. I have really become a Derby fan over the past two weeks and find myself looking for him on the field during pre-season games. Derby is an exciting young player, and even if the Patriots cut him (God I hope they keep this kid) he will have a great NFL career.

Look out for #86 on the field this week against the Panthers this Friday.

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