The Patriots yesterday signed tight end Aaron Hernandez, the fourth of 12 draft picks they have gotten under contract.
A fourth-round pick (113th overall) out of Florida, Hernandez signed a four-year deal, according to a league source. He joins receiver Taylor Price (third round), and offensive linemen Ted Larsen (sixth) and Thomas Welch (seventh) as New England draftees who have signed.
The 2009 Mackey Award winner, given to college football’s best tight end, Hernandez led the Gators in receptions with 68, for 850 yards and five touchdowns. For his career, he recorded 111 catches for 1,382 and 12 scores.
A Connecticut native who declared himself a Drew Bledsoe fan during his post-draft conference call, Hernandez was considered a first- or second-round talent by many scouts; as reported by the Globe, however, off-field issues likely led to his falling to Round 4.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 250-pound Hernandez spent a good amount of time working with the first-team offense last week during practice. He lined up in several spots, including receiver, fullback, and tight end.
Hernandez was not present for Monday’s session.
New England also drafted a tight end, Rob Gronkowski, in the second round, as it remakes the position once again; the rookies join veteran free agent Alge Crumpler, who will most likely be used in a blocking role and as a mentor to the youngsters.
SHALISE MANZA YOUNG and ALBERT R. BREER