FOXBORO -- The Patriots have a clear need at tight end that they’re trying to address.
Visits with veteran free-agent tight ends Owen Daniels and Dustin Keller showed that. But the draft came and went without the team pulling the trigger on a young player to insert in their program. The team made up for that early in the week, signing three undrafted free agents: Justin Jones from East Carolina, Tyler Beck from Bowling Green and Asa Watson from North Carolina State.
Watson is the most intriguing, in part because of his lineage. He is the younger brother of former Patriots first-rounder Benjamin Watson.
Asa is smaller -- 6-foot-2, 239 pounds -- and has nowhere near the college production of his older sibling, making only 27 catches for the Wolfpack in his collegiate career.
That time was marred by a pair of heart surgeries aimed at correcting a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, which causes a rapid heartbeat and tachycardia.
Watson was comfortable speaking about the condition at Gillette Stadium Tuesday.
“I think it’s always in question,” he said when asked about where things stood and whether it impacted teams’ interest in him. “Every team wants to know if it will affect me. As far as doctors, they knew it was something that wouldn’t hinder me from playing again . There’s plenty of other players who have had the condition who have played. None of them are too worried.”
Watson said he was at Gillette Stadium “three or four times” when Benjamin was playing.
His brother -- one of five siblings -- was geared up when Asa got the call to go to the Patriots.
“He was jumping on me. Punching me,” he said. “We had a good time. I watched [Ben] play here a lot [when I was] a kid and . . . a high schooler. Coming to see him play was awesome. And then to actually put on a jersey and to come here now is almost surreal because I’m kind of like in his place. It’s pretty nostalgic.”
Watson is a developmental prospect. Given his lack of college production, it’s likely he could wind up on the practice squad before all is said and done. But much needs to be done before that decision is made. Minicamps, passing camps and training camp then the preseason games.
But Watson has pedigree.