Smith Ready To Compete In New England

Not being the highest rated player at a given position is not always necessarily a bad thing during the NFL Draft. Former Marshall tight end Lee Smith is proof of that. Smith was selected in the fifth round of the draft by the New England Patriots. Being drafted by one of the top tier organizations means Smith will get a fair shake at making the roster and developing into a solid NFL player, rather than being thrown to the wolves and being told sink or swim.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is the Patriots already have a solid corps of tight ends on the roster. Veteran Alge Crumpler was elevated to co-captain status and rookies Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski developed into weapons for the Patriots in 2010. Hernandez and Gronkowski were the 3rd and 4th leading receivers for New England last season just behind Wes Welker and Deion Branch.
“I’m humbled to be put in a group with those three guys,” Smith says. “I’m excited to pick their brains and hopefully get a little knowledge from each one of them.”
Smith’s first challenge will be to make the Patriots roster and given the talent already at tight end that might seem like an uphill battle but Smith is excited about the competition.
“By no means am I saying that I’m a Crumpler, Gronkowski or Hernandez. Those guys are all great players. I’m going to compete just like I would if I was the only tight end on the team.  I don’t think about them being there or them not being there…every player in the NFL I’m sure competes as hard as they can every day on and off the field in order to be the best player they can be regardless of who is in front of them or behind them.”
Like many rookies in the league, Smith could find his way onto the roster due to his play on special teams. Smith might take a cue from another former Herd tight end, Mike Bartrum. Bartrum, who also played for New England in the mid-90’s, had a successful professional career thanks in large part to being a long-snapper.
“He did it for a long time, and I think he played 13 or 14 years.  And at that position, it can add 2 or 3 years to a player’s football career,” stated Smith. “I feel like anything that allows me to play in the National Football League for even an extra year is something that’s worth working at every day.”
Smith has the size and athletic ability that NFL teams are looking for. Smith will undoubtedly find a spot on someone’s roster even it’s not in New England.

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