In many ways, Jared Cook is everything Delanie Walker is not. Cook is an elite physical specimen who has a history of drawing comparisons to the likes of the nightmare inducing Calvin Johnson (good call, Spurrier.) Walker, in contrast, certainly does not fit the mold of the perceived "new era" of tight ends ( a topic I scrutinized in my previous article, "Good Riddance, Cookie.") In a league where you are hard-pressed to find a tight end under 6'5," Delanie Walker is a mere 6'0" tall. Teams covet tight ends like Cook because of his soft hands and field stretching speed. Delanie Walker led the 49ers in drops last year. Cook supporters could argue he is yet to come into his own, citing the fact that he is only 25 years old. With Walker, you know what you're getting, he'll be 29 at the start of next season. Compared to Cook, does Walker sound like a downgrade to you?
Acknowledging all the information just provided, I still say signing Walker is a wise first step towards alleviating the Titans' offensive woes.
I present to Titans Nation 5 reasons why Delanie Walker would be a perfect fit for our franchise:
1) He's Versatile.
When Jim Harbaugh was asked about the role his tight ends played in his offense, he always gushed over Walker, referring to him as a "hybrid" and a "swiss army knife." He wasn't the only one to speak positively about Walker, former GM and current ESPN contributor Bill Polian's analysis went as follows:
"[H]e's very, very versatile. He can play fullback. He can play tight end. He can play in the slot. He's a very good blocker and a willing blocker."
Swiss army knife, indeed. Not only can Walker produce at tight end, he would certainly be an upgrade from Quinn Johnson at fullback. Johnson was a mediocre blocker and an absolute non-factor as a rusher and a receiver. Walker could out-perform Johnson at every facet of the position. He would prove to be a viable threat in any run-heavy package, be that the I-formation or a multiple tight end singleback set. Walker's issues with drops could be a concern, but those concerns are likely overblown. Let's not forget, he was a prolific wide receiver in college.
One could try to argue Cook also has this type of versatility, since he played 60% of his snaps from the slot last year, but this was likely due to the lack of his effectiveness as a blocker.
2) He's a Great Teammate.
Cook has always been a bit of a malcontent. Remember the rumors during the trade deadline speculating he wanted to be shipped elsewhere? His work ethic is questionable. He takes plays off. He is certainly not the kind of guy I would see as a locker room leader.
Our offense is led by a young quarterback. Our best offensive talent includes Chris Johnson, a guy who's more concerned about his yardage total than his win record, and Kenny Britt, who's been arrested four times since you started reading this article. Our team is in need of some character guys, and Walker defines the role.
Over his career, Walker has been the ultimate professional. He's always accepted and embraced his role. He didn't come into the league and start blowing guys up on day one. Remember, he was a college wide receiver! It took years of hard work to become the best in the business at the thankless job of blocking, something his team required of him. His actions truly speak for themselves.
3) He's Cap Friendly.
On a team that was 26th in offense and 27th on defense last year, no one player is going to produce an instant fix. If Cook were to get tagged as a receiver, he'd be in line to make 10 million dollars next year. Conversely, Walker's base salary was barely over a million with the 49ers. Though he will certainly garner a bigger contract on the open market, his perceived value still isn't as high as guys like Cook, Davis, Bennett, or Keller.
This year's free agent market is saturated with tight end talent, which means the team that signs Walker is going to get him for a great price. The Titans have about 19 million dollars in cap space this year, so we should be able to sign Walker and still have enough room to address other issues on both sides of the ball.
4) He's a Proven Winner.
Just because you're on a winning team doesn't mean you're a winner. Every NFL team has 53 players on their roster at any given time, and it takes a complete effort by an entire roster in order to succeed.
Walker proved he's a winner by stepping up on the biggest stage of them all: The Super Bowl. Though he entered as a backup, he made the most out of every opportunity when he stepped on the field. Not only did he have 3 catches for 48 yards (3rd on the team,) but he also had two monstrous tackles on special teams. No matter Walker's role, he was determined to be a difference maker under the bright lights.
5) He's Invaluable in the Run Game
Chris Johnson has shown the ability to run between the tackles, but he is certainly no Jerome Bettis. If our run game is to succeed next year, the success of the off tackle run will be paramount. Again, Walker's the best blocking tight end in the league, and the blocking tandem of Walker and Craig Stevens would be a force to be reckoned with, indeed.
With that final point, I rest my case. What's your opinion?