New England Patriots Sleepers: Dalton Keene

With the 2020 NFL season fast approaching, the New England Patriots are facing a huge question mark at the tight end position. As the Patriots current roster constitutes, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, rookie Devin Asiasi, and fellow rookie Dalton Keene lead the way as the team’s top four tight ends. For the most part, we have seen what both LaCosse and Izzo are capable of within an NFL caliber offense, and it is not much. However, Asiasi and in particular, Keene, will have a huge opportunity to vault themselves atop the Patriots depth chart. 

2020 New England Patriots Sleepers: Dalton Keene 

Player Background

As a 247 Sports three star high school prospect, Keene generated several division one offers from schools such as Michigan, Nebraska, Syracuse, and Missouri before he committed to Virginia Tech. Despite finishing his collegiate career with just average stats, catching 59 balls for 748 yards and eight touchdowns over three seasons, Keene brings a lot more to the table than what those stats show. In addition to pass catching, Keene brought extreme versatility to the Hokies offense as he was utilized as a running back and fullback in some instances. Furthermore, Keene was used within multiple tight end roles as he not only served as a traditional in-line tight end, but also as a threat within the H-back role. 

Potential as an NFL Star

One of the most impressive things about Keene is how NFL ready his body currently looks. Simply put, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 251 pounds, Keene’s physique is chiseled from a granite block without an ounce of fat on his frame. Moreover, Keene’s body matches up eye-poppingly well with his on field high motor athletically tough playing style. Virginia Tech coaches have raved about Keene’s work ethic and toughness as he started 38 consecutive games for the Hokies. 

While Keene looks the part of a physical specimen, he also brings sneaky speed and athleticism to the Patriots offense. Keene’s 4.71 40-yard dash and 7.07 three cone drill times speak for themselves, but Keene brings more than just impressive numbers. Keene moves extremely fluidly between the white lines and possesses impressive body control and natural athletic awareness. This is not surprising as during Keene’s high school days, he ran track and field, a sport which teaches speed through fluidity and helps eliminate bad running habits. 

How New England May Utilize Keene 

How well Keene handles the mental aspect of New England’s offense will ultimately determine how much playing time he gets as a rookie. Although, from a physical standpoint, Keene fits the mold for how the Patriots like to utilize athletes during offensive situations. For example, in the recent past we have seen New England utilize players like Cordarrelle Patterson all over their offense with the philosophy of getting the athlete the football with a high percentage throw and let them gain yardage after the catch. We saw this last season as well with rookie receiver N’Keal Harry on short swing passes, jet sweeps, and screens. While Keene is a tight end with lesser athleticism, he certainly fits that versatile athlete mold which the Patriots have come to love. 

Keene has an extremely high ceiling, especially within New England’s offense, but he will need to learn multiple positions if he expects to stick around. Despite his lack of collegiate production, Keene has the characteristics of a high impact player in the NFL.

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