Let's face it, Chiefs fans, we were spoiled all those years with TG holding down the #1 TE spot on this team, we didn't give that position a 2nd thought. And, when Jason Dunn was here... well, the Chiefs had the best 1-2 punch at TE of any team in the league. Gonzalez was obviously a great receiver, and an underrated blocker. Dunn was a bulldozer, blocking better than most offensive linemen.
That was then, this is now.
Can one or two of these guys step up and give the Chiefs what they need at TE?
IF not, who can the Chiefs pick up to fill the void?
How do you even locate a "blocking TE?"
More after the jump
It's been well documented that Haley doesn't use the TE as a receiver as much as the Chiefs did in the past... but that could be because he never had TG.
That was one of the reasons I was OK with the Gonzalez trade... thinking Cottam could step up and fill a smaller role for the TE in the new offense.
Well, after watching the Vikings game film, I came to a startling conclusion... Tight Ends are critically important in both run and pass blocking... and so far, the Chiefs TEs have failed miserably in that regard.
I tried doing a few internet searches, looking for the "best blocking TE in the NFL"... well, that was a waste of time... Daniel Graham, Brandon Manumaleuna, Jason Witten, Heath Miller came up... but so did Kim Kleinsasser, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Shockey, Reggie Kelly, Mercadies Lewis, Mark Bruener, and a whole truckload of other guys. Apparently, every team has one "best blocking TE in the NFL".... except KC.
So, I'm going to take a closer look at the Chiefs Current TE... especially their blocking ability... but I want to hear your thoughts on these guys, or players that are actually going to be available and likely for the Chiefs to pick up before the season starts.
Brad Cottam: Cottam is HUGE... listed at 6'7", 269... he SHOULD be able to own defenders blocking. From what I hear, the problem is that he has trouble getting that big lanky frame low enough to gain leverage when blocking. I haven't seen much from Cottam, but he has caught a TD from Thigpen...
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/2008/draft/players/5785.html "Catches the ball well and a solid intermediate range target. Strong at the point and handles opposing defensive lineman as an in-line blocker. Does not play to his timed speed or show the ability to get downfield. Stiff and tight as a blocker which hurts his ability to finish off defenders."
Sean Ryan : At 6'5", 260... Ryan has bounced around the league a bit, and has been known for being a blocker. He's a "Parcells guy", and has recently been on top of the depth charts (for whatever that's worth). But... all I've seen is him dropping a key 3rd down catch in a game, and badly missing seemingly EVERY block he had a chance to make vs Minn.
"144. Sean Ryan, Dallas Cowboys,TE – Good blocker with the quickness to separate from linebackers on passroutes. Has good moves, runs good routes and will fight for additional yardageafter the catch. Has good hands but lacks good speed. Basically, he gives the Cowboys another physical blocker inthe running game." http://www.sandlotshrink.com/fbcollege2004.htm
Tom Crabtree: 6'5", 244 I haven't heard much of anything from him in the preseason... but I looked up some info about him from college. It sounds like he has the strength and blocking ability to be a factor. But, he's somewhat of a longshot to even make the team at this point.
http://www.muredhawks.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/crabtree_tom00.html "a very physical blocker, he will occasionally line up at fullback ... pound-for-pound, one of Miami's strongest players ... along with Brandon Brooks and Joe Coniglio, owns the team's top bench-press mark at 435 pounds ... has recorded 30 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press, best of any current RedHawk ... his 10-foot-1-inch standing long jump ranks second best among all Miami players ... also excels on the special teams where he is often the first player down the field. "
Jake O'Connell: 6'3", 250 O'Connell is not known for his blocking ability, but he is supposed to be an amazing athlete. Pioli/Haley thought enough of him to trade back into the 7th round to pick him, rather than hope he didn't get drafted and they could sign him as a FA. During camp, it sounds like he's made a few catches... but he's also been hurt twice, raising questions about his durability.
http://www.muredhawks.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/oconnell_jake00.html "Coaches say that he has exceptional ball skills and that he continues to grow as a blocker ... a great athlete, his verticle leap of 36.5 inches is second best on the team ... a solid special teams player. "