Chicago Bears: Ranking Possible Future Tight Ends
Whether it be a 7-1 start that led to a 10-6 finish and missing out on the playoffs or the poor play of the offensive line, the Chicago Bears suffered plenty of disappointment during the 2012 NFL season. The play they received from the tight end position qualified for that list as well.
For the entire season, the Bears got just 29 catches for 297 yards from their tight ends. Kellen Davis, who had 19 of those grabs, didn't play nearly as well as many expected he would, including himself (via Chicago Tribune).
This is a position the Bears must address during the offseason, whether it be through free agency, the NFL draft or both. Fortunately for them, there are several good players to be had, players that would be a big upgrade.
Here is a list, ranked down to the best fit, of the players that will be available to choose from.
8. Brandon Myers
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Having just 32 receptions through his first three NFL seasons, most fans had probably never even heard the name Brandon Myers. That's why he was one of the biggest surprises in the entire league in 2012.
He led the Raiders with 806 yards receiving, and his 79 catches were 28 more than anyone else on the team had. Would Myers be able to translate those numbers over to Chicago? We'll probably never know, because as one of the lone bright spots in Oakland last year, they'll likely be bringing him back.
7. Gavin Escobar
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Gavin Escobar is a bit of a dark horse to make this list, but if the Bears wait a few rounds to draft a tight end, they could find one of the gems of the upcoming draft with this guy.
Escobar is an incredibly athletic tight end who uses his 6'6" frame to his advantage. He has excellent hands for a man his size and could be drafted as high as the third round.
In three seasons at San Diego State, Escobar scored 17 touchdowns and had 122 receptions. Jay Cutler would be salivating throwing balls to this guy.
6. Dustin Keller
Despite having a down year in 2012 in which he only played in eight games, Dustin Keller has been one of the most trusted receivers for the New York Jets in his five seasons there. Prior to this season, one in which he struggled with multiple injuries, Keller didn't miss a single game in his first four seasons.
There will be a lot of things changing in New York this offseason, and that could mean Keller looking for work elsewhere. If that ends up being the case, the Bears will be a prime candidate for his services.
5. Fred Davis
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Although his 2012 season came to an abrupt end in Week 7 due to injury, Fred Davis is one of the league's most promising young tight ends.
Davis is an athletic tight end who has averaged more than 12 yards per reception during his career. He has 27 plays of 20 yards or more. His big-play ability may be a perfect fit in Chicago, but with guys like Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul and Chris Cooley as their only other tight ends, the Washington Redskins will do whatever they have to in order to retain him.
4. Martellus Bennett
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After several wasted years in Dallas, Martellus Bennett had a breakout season in 2012 with the New York Giants. Bennett caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns, giving Eli Manning a big target in the middle of the field.
Bennett would be a huge signing for the Bears, and his ability to make plays in the red zone is something Chicago sorely needs. The Giants will do what they can to keep him, but the Bears might make him an offer he can't refuse.
3. Zach Ertz
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A very complete football player, Zach Ertz will have a solid NFL career. Not only does he have great hands and good size (6'6"), but Ertz is also a very good run-blocker as well. Some scouts have him rated as the No.1 tight end in April's draft.
Ertz had a huge junior season at Stanford, catching 69 passes for 898 yards and six touchdowns. The Bears haven't seen numbers like that from a tight end in quite some time.
2. Tyler Eifert
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Tyler Eifert has all the tools to play tight end in the NFL, and the only reason he isn't No. 1 on this list is because the Bears would likely have to spend their first-round pick in order to get him. Knowing all of their offensive line woes, is that even an option?
Despite being 6'6", Eifert is very elusive and can take advantage of linebackers with his speed. Matched up against a defensive back, Eifert is just too big. He can make the tough catch and isn't afraid to go across the middle and take a hit.
Yes, the Bears need to revamp the offensive line, but would you really argue with this pick?
1. Jared Cook
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Playing his first four years in Tennessee, Jared Cook is loaded with untapped potential.
Although he hasn't caught more than 50 passes in a season, Cook has shown flashes of being a dominant player. It appears he just needs to be in the right offense with a quarterback who can get him the ball.
With Cutler, 70 catches, 800 yards and eight touchdowns is not out of the realm of possibilities for this guy. Throw in the fact that Cook reportedly (via ESPN) asked to be traded last year, and it would be hard to imagine him staying in a Titans uniform.
Chicago, this is your guy.