During his short tenure in New England, Dalton Keene struggled to find success with the Patriots. So, what does the future hold for the 23-year-old with much left to give?
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Patriots tight end Dalton Keene has been waived. Selected in the 2020 Draft, Keene struggled to find consistent success in Foxboro. What was the reasoning behind this move, and what does this mean for the rest of the roster?
Dalton Keene: The Story Of Injuries
Dalton Keene showed adequate talent through his years at Virginia Tech. In his Junior year, Keene accumulated 750 yards and eight touchdowns in ten games. Electing to declare for the Draft instead of playing one more year, the Patriots took a chance on the young prospect.
As Jeff Howe of The Athletic outlined in a recent story, Keene received a lot of pre-draft praise from evaluators. Notably, a member of the New Orleans Saints organization had this quote about the Virginia Tech product’s film.
“Dalton, I’ve got to tell you, out of all the film I’ve watched this year of all these guys, you are the biggest d*** on the field. And I mean that as a compliment.”NBC Boston
Soon enough, it became evident that the Patriots would have to wait for Keene to pan out into what they were hoping for him to be. In mid-November of 2020, just seven months after the Draft, the Patriots placed Dalton Keene on the Injured Reserve, simultaneously ending his season. During the six games that Keene was able to play, he only accumulated three receptions for 16 yards. The yard production Keene was showing at Virginia Tech was nowhere near the level required for the NFL.
This lack of production could have been a factor of a Cam Newton-led offense for his only healthy stretch of game time. But no matter what offense you are playing under, you can’t do anything for a team if you are not physically on the field.
Following his placement on the Injured Reserve, Keene would not appear in another game for the New England Patriots. Regardless of his lackluster stat line, Keene always showed grit and heart to play the game. Staying on a team for nearly two seasons without playing a game shows two things: A hard-working trait, and potential that makes you hard to let go of. While I have no doubts that Keene visibly showed these traits, this is a professional sports team, and you have to be able to consistently be on the field in order to have a spot.
What’s Next For The Patriots Tight End Group?
Currently, the Patriots hold four notable tight ends on their depth chart: Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi – the other tight end selected in the 2020 Draft – and Jalen Wydermyer. The release of Dalton Keene does not mean anything significant for the group as a whole, but it is possible that it could slightly harm the morale of his teammates in the upcoming weeks. Regardless, I doubt this move will make a sizable impact, or any impact at all, on the team’s physical or mental state.
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