The New England Patriots apparently aren’t afraid to let a top prospect know when he’s not doing things the Patriot Way.
The franchise — famous for its winning mentality that permeates the culture and is expected to be adopted by players — reportedly called out top tight end prospect Jared Pinkney for what they saw as a “loser’s mentality.” As the Vanderbilt tight end said in an interview with NESN, the Patriots were brutally honest when it seemed like he fell too deeply into his college program’s losing ways.
As the New York Post noted, Vanderbilt went 20-30 during Pinkney’s time on the team, despite his standout efforts on the field. He is seen as one of the top five tight end prospects in the draft, even though his senior season was a bit of a disappointment, with just 20 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
Pinkney is projected to be taken somewhere between the second and fourth rounds. But he made it clear that if the Patriots select him, they hope to see a change in attitude.
“It’s interesting, because (with) a team that’s been winning for as long as they have you expect them to come in with a certain mentality and to share that mentality and to spread it and impart it on you,” Pinkney said. “And that’s exactly what happened. I gave a kind of wonky answer, and it was like, ‘No, that’s a loser’s mentality.’ And I was like, ‘OK, my bad.’ (raises hands) They were like, ‘You need to be like this and that and that,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, sir. I’m better.'”
The brutal honesty from the Patriots could signal that they like Pinkney and would like to see him improve his mental focus ahead of the draft. After the retirement of Rob Gronkowski following the 2018 season, the team has been in need of another pass-catching tight end and could target Pinkney. Reports have indicated that the Patriots hope to keep Tom Brady in free agency and would try to surround him with more weapons.
Mike Dussault of Patriots.com projected that the team could also target Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.
“Shenault is a beast with the ball in his hands and would give the Patriots offense just the kind of competitive boost it needs,” he noted, adding that Shenault would bring a full set of skills that the Patriots could utilize.
It’s not clear if Shenault is being seriously considered by the Patriots, however.