Joe Newton (6-foot-7, 251 lbs.) is a productive, blue-collar tight end. He played three years at Oregon State (he missed the 2005 season with a leg injury), amassing 105 catches for 1,308 yards (12.5-yard average) and 15 touchdowns during that time. His best season came in 2004, when he set career-highs in receptions (56), yards (687) and touchdowns (seven).
Following the 2006 season, he was named a Pac-10 Honorable Mention selection and was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, given to the top tight end in college football. His 15 career touchdown receptions are the most by a tight end in Oregon State history.
However, Newton is more than just a receiver. He is a gritty blocker, both in pass protection and in running situations.
Im a big, athletic guy that can run, catch and block, he said.
Those skills earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he got a got the chance to prove to scouts that he can make the transition to the pro level. Throughout Senior Bowl week, he showed off his terrific hands by catching everything thrown at him. Although he struggled with his blocking early on, he grew more and more impressive as the week progressed.
During the Senior Bowl, he caught two passes for 26 yards.
TE Joe Newton, Oregon State
The thing that really hurt Newton was his lack of speed. He appeared slow off the line, slow into his routes and slow running downfield. However, he has always been successful despite his limited wheels and hopes to be considered one of the more complete tight ends in the draft.
I havent really studied the other tight ends, so I cant really comment on (my draft ranking), but I know I can do a little of everything, he said.
Several NFL teams have expressed an interest in acquiring Newton on draft day, likely projecting him to be a versatile No. 3 tight end who can contribute on special teams while working his way into the offensive rotation.
While New England watched Daniel Graham depart via free agency, they signed Kyle Brady -- a player Bill Belichick has coveted since the 1995 Draft. While Brady, 35, is the short term solution, New England still needs a long term solution, which could very well mean Newton is on their wish list. He has the size and the potential to fill both Brady and Graham's shoes, although it's unlikely he'll follow their draft pedigree of being a first round pick.
New England has already interviewed (at least) three other tight ends leading up to the Draft, and will likely get a good look at the rest of those available before the April deadline. Patriots scouts were also on hand for the Oregon State Pro Day.
Michael Lombardo writes for the SDBoltReport.com and SilverandBlack.com sites on the Scout.com Network. Jon Scott of PatriotsInsider.com contributed to this report.