INDIANAPOLIS — There are three podiums inside the combine’s media room, reserved for the press conferences expected to draw the largest crowds: coaches and GMs, high-profile quarterbacks, potential first-rounders at running back, wide receivers and so on. Oh, and Glenn Gronkowski.
“Baby Gronk” readily admitted Thursday that he expects to be drafted in the fifth round or later, maybe not even drafted at all. But there’s no escaping the allure of the Gronkowski name. Other fullbacks cannot, for example, weigh in on their older brother’s party cruise.
“I was not on the cruise, unfortunately,” Gronkowski said, which probably is a good thing for his NFL hopes. “Seen some pretty fun videos from it.”
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Glenn is the youngest of the five Gronkowski brothers, most notable among them, of course, being Rob—the Patriots’ star tight end/ocean travel purveyor. Another, Dan, was a 2009 seventh-round pick of the Lions and briefly hung around in the league. Chris, 29, spent time with four different franchises between 2010-13 after going undrafted.
The youngest Gronkowski, who declared for the 2016 draft despite having a year of eligibility remaining (he was eligible for the Senior Bowl because he had redshirted as a freshman), carried the ball only 16 times for 51 yards during his Kansas State career, and caught 15 passes, which went for an average of 24.6 yards with five touchdowns. He now faces an uphill battle trying to crack the pro ranks, in part, because a dwindling number of teams still utilize a fullback. Because of that, Gronkowski spent time at the Senior Bowl on special teams and elsewhere, attempting to carve out a wider niche.
“If you watched the Senior Bowl, that’s what I can do,” Gronkowski said. “I played H-back, played fullback, played tight end, played slot receiver, ran routes caught some balls, blocked. Obviously, I didn’t do too much of that in college, I was mainly a blocker in college, but I definitely think I can contribute in a lot of different ways.
“I think I can be very versatile,” he said, “very dynamic.”
He probably will have to be if he wants to stick in the league. Just seven teams used a fullback on 25% or more of their offensive snaps this season, per Football Outsiders. Alas, the Patriots were not among them—their roster is one of those that does not carry a fullback, so any hope the Gronkowski brothers have of reuniting in New England would count on a slight adjustment to scheme or on Glenn carving out a more wide-ranging role.
“That’d be awesome, that’d be a dream come true obviously,” Gronkowski said of potentially playing with his brother. “I never got to play with any of them growing up, they all got to play together. It'd be awesome.”
All the football talk, though, came secondary during Gronkowski’s press conference to questions about his family and especially about Rob.
“He’s crazy, obviously,” Glenn said of Rob. “He loves to have fun. I’m probably not as much fun as him, that's kind of hard to beat.”
Glenn later added that he “had been asked about the [Gronk party] cruise about 50 times since I’ve been here,” and that teams wanted to figure out if his brother’s personality had rubbed off on him. “They want to hear some wild stories that maybe the media didn't see,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure they got most of it.”