The 2011 NFL season showed just how valuable the tight end position can be. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski took the league by storm and became absolute nightmares for defenses.
The Patriots used a very successful approach by utilizing two tight ends on the field. Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were both on the field at the same time, and the opposition had no idea how to contain them.
Gronkowski finished the season with 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. Hernandez had 79 catches for 910 yards and seven scores. This proven success has lead to several teams trying to use the same approach in 2012.
The Lions have Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. The Colts drafted Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener to have a young and dynamic approach. The Redskins have both Chris Cooley and Fred Davis at their pleasure and Baltimore has Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson.
These teams all have one solid and one capable tight end on the field at once—too big to be covered by a defensive back but too elusive to be covered by a linebacker.
And in 2012, the Broncos must take advantage of their two tight ends.
Denver went out in free agency and signed Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme. Dreessen was a talented tight end in Houston who was stuck behind Owen Daniels. Tamme was a solid tight end but stuck behind Dallas Clark in Indianapolis. Both players shined when injuries led to their starts in their former homes.
Now in Denver, both players get a chance to make plays.
With the status of Peyton Manning still relatively unknown, he needs security. There is no safer bet than to throw the ball to a capable pass catching tight end. They provide a big frame and are often in the middle of the field.
And Manning has the luxury of two great pass catching tight ends with his injury still a factor.
Just as Clark did in Indy, Dreessen or Tamme might be able to line up in the slot on occasion to throw off the defense. If Manning can find success with the outside receivers, he can open up the field. With the field spread, the middle will be Dreessen's and Tamme's to own.
Given Manning's history with tight ends, they will get their fair amount of passes. If they are both productive and on the field at the same time, the possibilities are endless. If the defense dares to send a safety to contain a tight end, the deep ball can be a factor, or simply the presence of the tight ends will cause hesitation on defense.
Dreessen and Tamme can help ease Manning back into the game of NFL football. Manning is familiar with Tamme and Dreessen makes plays when the ball is in his hands.
If the Broncos can extensively use both tight ends and keep them on the field at the same time, the offensive possibilities will be endless.