The Indianapolis Colts may seem like tight end is all fine and dandy with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen being drafted in the second and third round of last year's draft (respectively). But after injuries plagued Fleener in 2012, Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano opted to increase the competition at the position with the final pick in the 2013 draft.
Justice Cunningham out of South Carolina may not be the most explosive tight end, but he packs a punch in blocking and should compete for the third spot this season.
Allen and Fleener will undoubtedly hold on to the starting spots in 2013, but the backup positions are up for grabs. The Colts still have Weslye Saunders and Dominique Jones on the roster from last season, but neither stood out in the passing game or from a blocking perspective.
The Colts saw a drop off last season when Saunders or Jones had to enter the game, and Cunningham looks to be a possible upgrade over the two.
Cunningham is a very good blocker, both from a run- and pass-blocking perspective. He keeps his leverage well and knows where to steer defenders (and can with strong hands and core strength).
He's a very tough player who is competitive and goes hard until the whistle, whether that is with the ball in his hands or as a blocker. He often looks to throw second-effort blocks down the field after many start watching the ball.
Cunningham has soft hands and tracks the ball well in the air. He's a fairly good athlete and runs surprisingly good routes. He has solid instincts down the field and finds holes in coverage naturally.
With his size (260 pounds), Cunningham has a slow top speed and doesn't change speeds well. He's never going to be an explosive downfield target.
While he doesn't have an elite top speed, he also doesn't have great quickness off the line, which means he can't get any advantage over linebackers off the snap in route-running.
Cunningham isn't going to scare anyone as a receiving target, but he's a fantastic blocker and has the hands and athleticism to be versatile.