When facing the Patriots, the biggest question for the opposing defence is always about who they will choose to attempt to cover the almost unstoppable Rob Gronkowski. This conundrum is something the Eagles will have to face in the Super Bowl on Sunday, so I've looked at the options and given my verdict on who should be tasked with taking on Gronk.
Mychal Kendricks - Linebacker
Kendricks is an incredibly athletic outside linebacker with great speed, his 4.47 second 40-yard dash much quicker than Gronkowski's more pedestrian 4.68 second time, and he has been reasonably good in coverage this season. However, the issue here is the height difference, with Gronkowski a full 6 inches taller than his counterpart. Kendricks could certainly keep up with Gronk on vertical routes but I feel he could struggle covering the Patriots tight end on cut routes or double moves, not to mention he'd have almost no chance in a contested catch situation.
Nigel Bradham - Linebacker
Bradham has been superb in coverage this year boasting a PFF coverage grade of 86.9, sixth amongst all linebackers. On top of this, Bradham ranked first in yards allowed per coverage snap and coverage snaps per reception. Like Kendricks, Bradham is shorter than Gronk but the difference in this case is 4 inches (every little helps), however this could still be an issue for the 6 year veteran. Bradham has been superb in coverage this year, but Gronkowksi is like nothing he would have come up against this season and he could really struggle on the longer developing and vertical routes.
Malcolm Jenkins - Safety
On pure coverage ability, Jenkins is the best option due to his cornerback experience so would likely be able to stay with Gronk on most of his routes. The problem with Jenkins however, is the size difference between the two players in both the height and weight departments. Even if the Eagles safety was in perfect coverage, Gronkowski could use his body to bully Jenkins and make the necessary catches.
Double Coverage (or Nigel Bradham)
I personally don't believe any of the above players can effectively cover Gronk alone, therefore the Eagles will have to either put two defenders on the tight end or get Jim Schwartz to cook up some clever zone coverages to keep him quiet. However, if the Eagles do have to leave a single man on Gronkowksi then I feel Nigel Bradham would have the best chance to limit Brady's favourite target. The only thing that is certain is that it's going to be a very interesting matchup to watch.
Mowlem is a sports writer from Reading, United Kingdom. All articles are written by Reece Mowlem (unless stated otherwise).