With Winslow just arriving, it's hard to imagine that he'll be well enough versed in the offense to allow the Pats to do that. Though we have seen players come right in and contribute before, (ex. Brian Waters last year).
Is Winslow a mirror image of Hernandez though?
"..A situation arose where Aaron got hurt, and we’re kind of similar, so I’m going to come in here and help out,” said Winslow, adding when asked for more on that. "You just have to watch tape, but yeah, there’s some similarities there. He’s probably one of the most versatile tight ends in the game, if not the most. He goes all around the field. He can play any position. He’s very versatile in what he does and he’s smart. He’s a very good player.”
While Winslow stated that he is similar to Aaron Hernandez, some of the numbers don't exactly bear that out.
ESPNBoston's Jeremy Lundblad had a great post comparing the two tight ends last year. Both had a similar number of targets and receptions last year, but there's more to it than that, he writes:
On the surface, Winslow and Hernandez had very similar seasons in 2011. Winslow was targeted 114 times, while the ball was thrown to Hernandez 108 times. Winslow finished with 75 receptions, while Hernandez had 79.
Based on that, there’s no on better tight end to replace Hernandez. Of course, there’s more to the numbers.
Winslow is no longer the same player after the catch. Despite a similar number of receptions, Winslow’s 254 yards after catch were nearly half of Hernandez’s total of 503.
Hernandez missed 23 tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Winslow missed three.
Just because they had similar reception totals, don’t mistake them for equivalent threats.
So what did Winslow mean when he said that the two are "kind of" similar? The key here is the versatility. The ability to be a lethal blocker, a threatening receiver and also lining up at multiple positions. There aren't a ton of stats for that.
Lundblad's stats are of course worth noting, it shows just the different types or receivers the two are. Will Winslow be a competent fill in for Hernandez while he rehabs his ankle? That depends on how quickly he picks up the offense.
One thing is clear though, the Patriots probably plan on using Winslow a lot like they did Hernandez. They need another tight end who can block and catch (Hoo-man can't do either apparently). They also need someone they can move around to exploit match ups. Winslow can do that.
Kellen Winslow is not Aaron Hernandez, but he'll do for now.