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Old 12-21-2012, 10:26 AM
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Default Tight Ends- 2013

As I assess our offensive performance this season, it is becoming clear to me how much our production at the TE position has suffered over the past couple of seasons. Gates will be a hall-of-famer someday, but right now he is struggling to separate and has had a lot of trouble with drops. Per route run, he is one of the least productive tight ends in the league for 2012. Couple that with his high salary and I think we may be forced to move on in 2013.

Rivers' issue clearly stem from protection first and foremost, but after that I think his biggest problem is not having reliable options over the middle of the field. He used to have Sproles and Gates (in his prime) catching passes there. Now he has Brown and Gates (shell of his former self). Big difference.

Many will likely point to Green as the heir apparent. And while I have my hopes for Ladarius' athletic potential, he isn't a blocker which limits his usefulness. And we also know that two receiving threats at TE is not necessarily redundant- they can both be very useful. Note: I am excluding Levine Toilolo and Ryan Otten. I believe the former is going back to school and have never watched the latter play.

With all that said, here are my tight end rankings:
  • Zach Ertz, Stanford: Ertz stands at 6'6" and is 252 lbs. He is one of the more athletic prospects in this class. He knows how to achieve seperation, high points passes with great timing, and simply doesn't drop catchable balls. He isn't much of a speedster, but his red-zone ability is among the best to be found and he has been known to make a little happen after the catch. While not the best blocker in 2013, he's also far from the worst. He's very willing, and can drive defenders off the ball with the proper leverage. His route tree is advanced for his level and that development has been accelerated by Stanford's pro style offense. NFL Comparison: Zach Miller, Seahawks. Projected round: 2nd.
  • Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame: It was a tight call for me between Ertz and the 6'6" 251 lb Eifert. In the end, Eifert's inferior athleticism pushed me to give the Cardinal the nod. That said, Eifert is still an excellent prospect, just for different reasons. While he isn't as adept at creating separation in the passing game, Eifert is a superior blocker- mauling at times in the running game. His route tree is equally as developed, but he's a notch below Ertz in terms of high pointing passes which hurts him in the red zone. Due to his blocking prowess, Eifert might be the better compliment to Green and could make him the better choice for us in the end- but I still think he's an inferior prospect overall. NFL Comparison: Heather Miller, Steelers. Projected round: 2nd.
  • Michael Williams, Alabama: Williams' name hasn't gotten much play with the media because his receiving ability is underutilized by the Crimson Tide offense. But the 6'6" 269 lb TE is easily the best blocker available in 2013. His work in the running game is truly outstanding; he's had a lot to do with the success of guys like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Eddie Lacy. Alabama's staff has really refined his technique and allowed him to maximize his impressive natural strength. His work as a receiver is underrated. While not a burner, he has the quickness to seperate from most linebackers and shows soft hands. He might not ever be the primary receiving TE on a team that likes to utilize the position in the passing game, but his floor is as a dangerous compliment in two TE sets. NFL Comparison: Martellus Bennett, Giants. Projected Round: 3rd.
  • Chris Gragg, Arkansas: Gragg's injury issues have really hurt Tyler Wilson and the Razorback offense this season. A converted WR, the 6'3" 236 Gragg is an intriguing H-back prospect and surpringly good blocker. While never devestating, he lead blocks effectively and uses improving technique to wall defenders away from the play. Add to that his solid hands and natural athelticism and Gragg could be a very useful weapon in the right offense. His durability and size will be concerns, but his upside is high enough for the middle rounds. NFL Comparison: Chris Cooley. Projected Round: 4th.
  • Jordan Reed, Florida: Reed is at once the most athletic and most lop-sided prospect in this class. At 6'3" 243 he is probably going to test the fastest out of his class, and that shows on the field. His routes are ill-defined, but he knows how to get separation and is the only prospect in this class that projects to be any sort of consistent deep threat. That said, his blocking is next to non-existent and he is a much better receiver in the slot than he is lined up tight. Some NFL team can surely make great use of his receiving ability, but I doubt he will ever be a traditional dual threat TE. NFL Comparison: Dallas Clark. Projected Round: 4th.
  • Dion Sims, Michigan State: At 6'5" 285 lbs, Sims is a capable blocker, but he doesn't really inspire me as a pass catcher. His numbers make him look better than he is in my opinion, and I don't see him being much more than a check down option in the NFL. I think he projects well as a "2nd fiddle" TE who spends the majority of his time as an in-line blocker. I will say in his favor that his big frame and soft hands could make him a nice red-zone target. NFL Comparison: Anthony Fasano. Projected Round: 5th.
  • Joseph Fauria, UCLA: Fauria is one of the more overrated TE's in this class in my opinion. His 6'7" 255 lb frame does make him a nice redzone target, but I don't see much athleticism in his game elsewhere and he's a poor blocker. His listed size belies an inability to engage properly or gain leverage. He has potential to develop into a well-rounded TE, but it will take some time- if indeed he ever gets there. NFL Comparison: Matt Spaeth. Projected round: 5th.
Honorable mentions: Travis Kelce (Cincinnati), Philip Lutzenkirchen (Auburn), Jake Stoneburner (Ohio State), Ryan Griffin (Connecticut),
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:10 AM
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I like Williams, probably the most athletic TE out of Bama in awhile.
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Old 12-21-2012, 02:21 PM
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I hope we don't draft a TE this year, we have much bigger needs. Obviously I hope Green turns out good, but I also think Rosario would be decent, he just hasn't gotten enough opportunities imo. Unfortunately we only signed him for 1 year so idk if he'll be back.

But I do agree Gates is a shell of his former self, I wonder how much longer we'll hold onto him. I don't know how the salary stuff works (and what happens if we cut him), but we do have him signed for 3 more years with some pretty big cap hits.
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Old 12-21-2012, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Jimr1428 View Post
I hope we don't draft a TE this year, we have much bigger needs. Obviously I hope Green turns out good, but I also think Rosario would be decent, he just hasn't gotten enough opportunities imo. Unfortunately we only signed him for 1 year so idk if he'll be back.

But I do agree Gates is a shell of his former self, I wonder how much longer we'll hold onto him. I don't know how the salary stuff works (and what happens if we cut him), but we do have him signed for 3 more years with some pretty big cap hits.
Not sure what releasing Gates would entail re: cap hits. But I think TE is going to be the most overlooked need of the Chargers this offseason. Rivers thrives off good TE play and he hasn't had it this season. We also haven't had a real run blocking presence at the position since Manumaleuna left for Chicago. A player like Eifert would boost the passing and running games as a rookie. That's a lot of production for a 2nd round pick if we can land him there.

Green is a receiver only and will do most of his work in the slot in all likelihood. Rosario is a journeyman talent who our fans are going to overrate based on one game.
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:02 PM
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Excellent work Kemp. Enjoyed reading.
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1. Jalen Ramsey - DB - Florida State
2. Kenny Clark - DT - UCLA
3. Christian Westerman - OG/C - Arizona State
4. Dean Lowry - 34DE - Northwestern
5. Robby Anderson - WR - Temple
6a. Jatavis Brown - ILB - Akron
6b. Victor Ochi - 34OLB - Stony Brook
7. Darrell Greene - OG - San Diego State
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Kemp17 View Post
Not sure what releasing Gates would entail re: cap hits. But I think TE is going to be the most overlooked need of the Chargers this offseason. Rivers thrives off good TE play and he hasn't had it this season. We also haven't had a real run blocking presence at the position since Manumaleuna left for Chicago. A player like Eifert would boost the passing and running games as a rookie. That's a lot of production for a 2nd round pick if we can land him there.

Green is a receiver only and will do most of his work in the slot in all likelihood. Rosario is a journeyman talent who our fans are going to overrate based on one game.
It is a 7 million dollar cap hit, Gates isn't going anywhere soon.
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimr1428 View Post
I hope we don't draft a TE this year, we have much bigger needs. Obviously I hope Green turns out good, but I also think Rosario would be decent, he just hasn't gotten enough opportunities imo. Unfortunately we only signed him for 1 year so idk if he'll be back.

But I do agree Gates is a shell of his former self, I wonder how much longer we'll hold onto him. I don't know how the salary stuff works (and what happens if we cut him), but we do have him signed for 3 more years with some pretty big cap hits.
Well, with Lutzenkirchen's injury towards the end of the season could means he goes undrafted. For whatever reason, the highest I saw him was 4th-5th round even when he was healthy. I hate Auburn but love him as a prospect. If he goes undrafted, they could get a steal because Gates can be more than serviceable until Lutzenkirchen can get healthy. He'd be my ideal choice just due to his ability but where the Chargers could get him due to injury (7th or undrafted). Other than him, I would not want to spend a high round pick on a TE so Michael Williams would be next choice in the 4th-5th round or so.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:43 PM
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It is a 7 million dollar cap hit, Gates isn't going anywhere soon.
I know his 2013 salary is guaranteed, but only for injury. Can you show me where you're getting the 7M cap hit? Not doubting you, I just want to know how you know.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:58 PM
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What kind of upsets me after re reading the OP is the realization that this Charger organization may have wasted the best years of gates without much to show other than several one and done playoff performances.

Another future charger HOFer, and one if the best to play the poaition, with no jewelry.
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2. Kenny Clark - DT - UCLA
3. Christian Westerman - OG/C - Arizona State
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5. Robby Anderson - WR - Temple
6a. Jatavis Brown - ILB - Akron
6b. Victor Ochi - 34OLB - Stony Brook
7. Darrell Greene - OG - San Diego State
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:02 PM
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Just like Kellen. And Tony Gonzalez for that matter.
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