Tight-end production has become essential for an offense to thrive in today's NFL.
Despite injuries, the St. Louis Rams have positioned themselves to have a formidable offensive unit in 2012.
Sam Bradford should be healthy. Isaiah Pead was drafted to provide depth behind Steve Jackson. Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith, Danario Alexander and Brian Quick headline a talented receiving corps.
The final piece to this offensive unit becoming elite is the evolution of Lance Kendricks.
St. Louis drafted Kendricks in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft as presumably the tight end of the future. He was considered by some to be one of top the tight ends in the class.
But Kendricks turned in a relatively pedestrian season of 28 receptions, 352 yards and no touchdowns. The injury to Sam Bradford didn't help.
With Jeff Fisher at the helm and a healthy Bradford in the huddle, Kendricks should have every opportunity to improve on his 2011 numbers, if not double the yards total. The Rams will likely look to utilize Kendricks early and often in an attempt to loosen up defenses so the rest of the game-breakers at the skill positions can do their damage.
In an NFC West division that is always up for grabs, St. Louis could take teams by surprise early on and parlay that into a playoff berth.