Continuing our series on the Jaguars’ comparative roster strength to their 2012 opponents, today we will take a look at the tight end position. Once considered a very strong position for the Jaguars, the rising star that is Marcedes Lewis took a sharp turn in the wrong direction in 2011. Here we’ll be assessing talent as well as production and potential.
The tight end position is on the rise in the NFL as more teams like find two tight end sets to be an effective variation of three receiver sets and allo for greater rushing versatility. Do the Jags have a group of tight ends that can measure up to what the opposition can bring?
Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: It’s very tough to argue against the production of Hernandez and Gronk. The Patriots’ high flying tight ends don’t have to block well for runners because they are too busy catching touchdowns. Used more like heavy receivers than anything else, the Patriots have the most talented tight ends in the league.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers: Like the Patriots the Packers have a very strong receiving target at the tight end position. Finley can make al the grabs, can block effectively, and forces defenses to scheme to him. He is missing a second component for 2012 but will have plenty of relief from the outside receiving targets that stock the Packers roster.
Owen Daniels/Garrett Graham, Houston Texans: The Texans don’t have to use two tight ends to beat you, but they can take their pick from a position with some good depth. The real force behind the strength of their tight end position is that both players fit very well with their passing attack and zone blocking scheme – allowing Ben Tate and Arian Foster to run wild while still presenting a legitimate receiving threat.
Brandon Pettigrew/Tony Scheffler, Detroit Lions: Pettigrew is a great target for Matt Stafford and presents a big red zone threat against opposing defenses. Tony Scheffler has a strong reputation the league over and helps to take some of the heat off Pettigrew when needed. The Lions have Calvin Johnson on the outside, but don’t overlook what they have at tight end or the opposition gets beat.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets: Keller has quietly put together some very good seasons for the Jets. If Tebow ends up making the field at any point, look for Keller to be heavily involved. He is the outlet for Mark Sanchez that somehow keeps them in playoff contention.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans: Cook could have a big year if Jake Locker ends up starting for the season. He blocks very effectively (when CJ2K feels like running) and also presents a nice target for the quarterback.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham will be joined by ex-Packer Donald Lee this season but will undoubtedly overshadow the journeyman tight end. Gresham has become a favorite of Andy Dalton and helped to make Cedric Benson look like a real running back last year.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars: Lewis could have been two or three on this list if he had replicated his 2010 numbers in 2011. With the struggling Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, Lewis has failed to become the outlet a young quarterback needs. A strong blocker, his help on the line can’t be overlooked in light of Maurice Jones-Drew’s rushing title season. He needs to get better at the little things.
Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins: I like Fasano though a lot of people could disagree with me. He isn’t the most productive tight end in the world but he gets it done on the field when called on.
Kellen Davis, Chicago Bears: For a pass-heavy team, Davis doesn’t accumulate many yards or many receptions. He isn’t the best target off the line and isn’t great in pass protecting. I also suspect that Matt Forte’s success on the ground comes more from his skills than blocking contributions from Davis.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills: Chandler has done little to separate himself from the pack of tight ends in the NFL. If his blocking contributes to a breakout season for C.J. Spiller then this conversation may go another way.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: Essentially asked to block for the Vikings’ running backs, Rudolph does decently in that regard. Like Lewis though he has failed to become the outlet that Christian Ponder needs as he develops.
Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders: Myers is a depressing starting option for the Raiders. Tight end should be a position of need heading into the season for Oakland.
Coby Fleener, Indianpolis Colts: Coby Fleener was a very, very good prospect in the 2011 draft. He teams up with fellow Stanford draftee Andrew Luck to try and replicate their college success in the NFL. I don’t think that is a good thing. I like Fleener’s skills and hope to be surprised but am not expecting anything.
The Jaguars play some really good tight ends and some very….mediocre tight ends throughout the season. Marcedes Lewis needs to prove he’s worthy of being the top target for the Jaguars again because his 2011 season was a major down year. It will be curious to see if the two tight end set is as effective in 2012 as it was in 2011 now that some teams are taking more steps to address the attack.
– Luke N. Sims
Check out our other roster strength analysis: QB, RB