Dalton Keene is a tight end that was drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Keene had been receiving first-team reps late in camp, though Ryan Izzo is listed as the first-string tight end. There was some momentum building for Dalton Keene to possibly start against Miami. However, Keene has been dealing with a neck injury since September 11th, when he was added to the injury report. He has been inactive in the first two games of the season, likely for a combination of reasons.
It is not unusual to see rookie tight ends inactive on game day as the tight end position has one of the biggest learning curves at the NFL level, historically. His limited participation in practice is hindering his ability to prove his worth to the team, but I fully expect Keene’s versatility to be utilized against the Raiders or soon after. Izzo certainly has a solid lead for the starting tight end spot as it stands now. Keene has been battling Devin Asiasi for reps all camp and will continue to do so all season.
Dalton Keene played a unique role for Virginia Tech that should blend perfectly with the new Patriots offense built for Cam Newton. The Patriots offense is a blend of power running with Cam Newton with a heavy dosage of the Patriots short to intermediate passing game. Dalton Keene played the H-back role in college. The position is similar to a tight end, but the player lines up behind the line of scrimmage. That position was defined as the Swiss Army knife of the Virginia Tech offense by his own head coach. He spent most of his time in college mauling linebackers in the run game. Keene also has plenty of experience catching screens and producing off of play action passes.
Dalton Keene could be inserted into the Patriots offense in that same H-back role. They called him Rambo in college, and his playstyle reflects that nickname. I am extremely excited to see how McDaniels uses Keene in this new look offense. I would expect a lot of play action passes on delays and plenty of diversion with that jumbo, seven offensive linemen set. I’d also look out for a lineman to catch a touchdown or two this season, as they have to report as eligible receivers.
The in-draft analysis is sometimes all over the place, but the coverage actually did a great job displaying my main point of this article, that McDaniels can get creative with Dalton Keene:
If you want to see my article on all of the Patriots tight ends from this offseason click here. All of these players are still with the Patriots, though Matt LaCosse has opted-out of this season. Berry and Burt are currently on the practice squad. If you want to see the Patriots unofficial depth chart, click here.