The Houston Texans seemed to have a clear vision in 2014 of what their tight end position was and how it would benefit the team. But the end results were highly disappointing, leaving only question marks as to what this team needs to do moving forward to improve the position.
After signing their starting tight end to a three-year deal, and dedicating an early draft pick towards his back-up, the tight end position in Houston became a glorified extra offensive lineman by seasons’ end. And the fact that Houston’s tight ends ranked very low as blockers perfectly illustrates the deficiencies at the position.
2015 Free Agents: None
Draft Priority: High
2014 Season Review: When the Houston Texans failed to bulk up their wide recevier corps in the offseason, some believed Houston would instead focus more offensively on their tight ends in 2014. They were wrong. As a group, Houston’s’ tight ends recorded 32 receptions and three touchdowns in total last season. That would be lackluster production for a single tight end, much less all four!
Before last season began, the Texans signed starting tight end Garrett Graham to a three-year, $11.25 million contract. In return, Graham recorded 18 catches for 197 yards and one score while playing 566 snaps in 11 games.
The first pick in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz showcased an impressive skill set coming to Houston. But Pro Football Focus ranked him as the worst offensive player for the Texans last season with an overall rating of -17.4.
Ryan Griffin was probably the best tight end in Houston in 2014 (outside of defensive end J.J. Watt), but his 10 receptions for 91 yards and one score in 16 games didn’t set the world on fire. And undrafted rookie tight end Anthony Denham out of Utah played a total of three snaps in 2014.
Positional Outlook: Bleak. Clearly, none of the tight ends on the Texans’ current roster are getting the job done. Signing Graham to an extension was a mistake. Fiedorowicz will be given more time to develop but appears to be a bust. But Griffin should compete for a bigger role in the offense this offseason.
Unfortunately, both NFL free agency and the NFL Draft lack are sparse of tight end talent this offseason. The bigger names possibly hitting free agency at the tight end position next month are the Denver Broncos’ Julius Thomas, the Cleveland Browns’ Jordan Cameron and the Miami Dolphins’ Charles Clay.
Houston could also look to find a veteran tight end who could become a hidden gem like the Washington Redskins’ Niles Paul, the Cincinnati Bengals’ Jermaine Gresham or they might even try to bring back Owen Daniels, who played with the Baltimore Ravens last season.
As for the draft, this tight end class is nearly non-existent. Minnesota’s Maxx Williams leads this lackluster group. But rumors about Williams’ poor interviews during the Combine have hurt his draft status.
I think wide recevier/tight end Devin Funchess out of Michigan is an intriguing player. At 6-5, 230 pounds, Funchess certainly has the body for the position. But are you willing to develop his blocking skills?
In an article that appeared previously on Toro Times, I argued how Penn State tight end Jesse James could be a good fit in Houston as a mid-to-late round pick. James being a former player under now Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t hurt his chances.
Bottom line: The Texans need more talent at the tight end position and must act this offseason to get it. Standing pat is not an option.
Poll Question: Who Will Be The Houston Texans Starter At Tight End In Week One?
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