The Eagles recently brought Visanthe Shiancoe in for a workout and were very close to signing him. The fact that they were interested in bringing in a veteran tight end tells me that they're likely going to keep three tight ends this season.
I don’t see them going after another veteran tight end like a Jeremy Shocker or Bo Scaife. They would have already brought in those players for a workout had they been looking to add either of them.
I expect the Eagles to run more two-tight end sets in 2012. It just adds another element to the passing game and gives them another extra blocker to use in the running game. In order to utilize more two-tight ends sets, you need to have three tight ends for depth purposes.
You wouldn't expect a team that likes to use a lot of four-wide receiver sets to keep only four wide receivers, so why would a team that wants to use more two-tight end sets only keep two tight ends?
The Eagles have four tight ends on the roster right now who have a realistic shot at making the team. Brent Celek is the starter and is in no danger of losing that role. The other tight ends, Clay Harbor, Brett Brackett and Chase Ford are all battling for two more roster spots and the No. 2 tight end spot as well.
The No. 3 tight end will most likely be inactive on game day and will only see the field if either Celek or the No. 2 gets hurt. Whoever wins the No. 2 job will see plenty of action on Sundays and be a vital part of the red-zone offense.
Clay Harbor is the favorite. He has played that role the past two seasons and will enter training camp as the No. 2 tight end. The problem with Harbor has been has lack of production since being drafted in 2010. He has just 22 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns since being drafted in 2010.
He has to show signs of progression over last season in order to keep that No. 2 tight end role. If he has already reached his ceiling, the coaches will be looking for someone else in camp to take his spot. Camp is about finding the 53 best players for your roster, not the players with the most experience in the schemes.
Brett Brackett is a player I really like going into camp. He was a slot receiver at Penn State before entering the NFL draft in 2011. He made the switch to tight end to better his chances of making an NFL roster. He spent last season on the Miami Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles practice squads. The issue with Brackett isn't his receiving skills, it’s his blocking.
Andy Reid doesn't want one-dimensional tight ends, he wants good blockers and receivers at the position. What's the point of having a two-tight end set if the tight end opposite of Celek can’t block? The defense will know where the run is going.
I like Brackett’s chances this summer. He has an outstanding work ethic and is a natural receiver. If he's really overmatched in run blocking, I don’t think the Eagles would have kept him on the roster. It’s all about technique. If he keeps getting better with his blocking, he will make this roster.
He was such a natural receiver over the middle in college and should be really good receiving tight end right away. He isn't a superior athlete like a Vernon Davis or Antonio Gates. He's closer to a Jason Avant-type receiver at the tight end spot. He just does the little things so well to get open and beat his man.
Chase Ford was a really nice surprise during the Eagles' OTAs. He did very little in college at Miami after transferring from junior college. He has just 16 catches in two seasons. Ford looked like a player who should have been a much bigger part of the Hurricanes offense based on what we saw during OTAs.
He was so fluid in his route running and showed that he's a pretty good athlete. Again, blocking will be key for him. You don’t get by on this Eagles team by being a one-dimensional player. If he can show off his receiving skills once the veterans get here and prove he can be a capable blocker as well, he will be a really tough player to cut.
Shiancoe would have been a great pickup for the Eagles if healthy, though he has signed with New England, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports. He was an outstanding red-zone target for the Vikings. Now, the door is wide open at tight end.
Any of these three players could wind up making the roster and being the No. 2 tight end. Everyone will have a clean slate at camp. The two best guys make the roster, regardless of whether or not they were drafted.