In 2010, the Ravens were prepared to select Rob Gronkowski with the 11th pick of the second round, but New England spoiled that plan by drafting Gronkowski one spot earlier. The Ravens took Dickson a round later, but the Patriots beat the Ravens to thew punch again in the fourth round, choosing Hernandez in the 15th slot. The Ravens claimed Pitta one pick later.
Last season, Gronkowski set an NFL record for tight ends with 1,327 yards, surpassing the mark of 1,290 set in 1980 by Kellen Winslow of the San Diego Chargers. Gronkowski also established a league high for the position with 17 receiving touchdowns, eclipsing the record of 13 shared by Antonio Gates of the Chargers in 2004 and Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers in 2009.
Hernandez fared well with 910 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, and he and Gronkowski combined for 169 catches – the most by a pair of tight ends in the same season in NFL history.
Dickson and Pitta totaled 94 catches, 933 yards and eight touchdowns, but Dickson said he and Pitta won’t shy away from comparisons to Gronkowski and Hernandez.
“Without a doubt,” Dickson said. “That goes without saying because me and Dennis have worked so hard for them to rely on us. We’re two very smart athletes, and Dennis could start on any team in this league. We’re working every day. So it’s going to be really competitive going into training camp, and I think we’ll both see a lot of balls next year.”