FanPost

AFC South Position Group Comparisons: TEs

Earlier this week I began a series on comparing the respective position groups for the AFC South. Today I will be writing up about the TEs that call the AFC South home.

Previous entries:

RBs

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Team: Indianapolis Colts

Players: Dwayne Allen, Jack Doyle, Coby Fleener, Weslye Saunders, Erik Swoope

Analysis: The Colts have a pretty deep TE position. The main two, Allen and Fleener, reversed roles in the past two seasons. Allen had better stats in 2012, Fleener had better stats in 2013 (due to Allen only having played in one game). When both are healthy, it is a solid 1-2 punch at TE. Fleener is obviously most familiar with Andrew Luck dating back to the Stanford days, but Allen had a good rapport with Luck in 2012. It may develop into a "TE by committee" kind of situation in Indy. Both are talented enough to deserve playing time, and with a not-so-deep WR corps, you'd figure to see plenty of both. Jack Doyle is a guy who the Colts poached the Titans for, to the dismay of some. He only caught 5 passes last year, but you figure he will see expanded playing time and targets this season, especially if one of the top two gets hurt. Weslye Saunders hasn't made any sort of significant impact in the NFL during his 3 seasons, and Swoope is a rookie who will likely be hard-pressed to make the roster.

DD's Projected Opening Day Depth Chart: Coby Fleener (starter), Dwayne Allen, Jack Doyle

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Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Players: Brandon Barden, Clay Harbor, Marcel Jensen, Reggie Jordan, Marcedes Lewis, D.J. Tialavea

Analysis: The Jaguars go into training camp with a familiar name at TE, but not much else behind him. Marcedes Lewis is the sure-fire starter unless he is injured. Lewis has had some productive years in Jacksonville. In 2010, he recorded his highest yardage total (700) and TD total (10), but has been fairly average to below average in his other seasons. He's a solid option for the Jaguars passing attack, but he had a career low in games played last year, as well as his lowest receptions since his rookie season of 2006 (11 GP, 25 rec in 2013), so age and durability is obviously a concern. If he is injured, the Jaguars might have some trouble. Clay Harbor is the most experienced TE on the roster minus Lewis, going into his 5th NFL season, most of which have been with Philadelphia. He has made a few plays here and there, but has not made any major impact. Brandon Barden is a former Vanderbilt player as well as a former Titan, but he has not seen the field. Jensen, Jordan, and Tialavea are all rookies. It's safe to say the Jaguars will be reliant on one of the four nil-experienced players to step up and provide a solid 3rd option at TE. It may come down to whoever can impact the game on special teams.

DD's Projected Opening Day Depth Chart: Marcedes Lewis (starter), Clay Harbor, [insert most productive TE from the other 4 here]

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Team: Houston Texans

Players: Anthony Denham, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Garrett Graham, Ryan Griffin, Zach Potter

Analysis: When you think of TEs and the Houston Texans, you think of Owen Daniels. Daniels is no longer on the roster, so goodbye Texans TE productivity, right? Not necessarily. Garrett Graham is the likely #1 TE on the roster, and he is an underrated commodity at TE. He played in 13 games last year, and has recorded 8 TDs in the past few seasons, which isn't terrible considering Daniels was the number one guy (although Daniels only played in 5 games last season). I believe he will be a good fit in the Texans new offense and will be a solid option for Fitz. C.J. Fedora-person is a rookie out of Iowa who I expect Houston has high hopes for. I would expect him to get plenty of work. He's a big dude at 6'5", 265 pounds, and has huge hands. He's got the prototypical build to create mismatches and make big plays using his frame. Whether or not Houston takes advantage is likely due to how well he adapts to the NFL game, how hard he works, and whether Fitz can actually get the ball to him. The other 3 TEs are likely to be fighting for the 3rd TE spot.

DD's Projected Opening Day Depth Chart: Garrett Graham (starter), C.J. Fiedorowicz, [insert most productive TE from the other 3 here]

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Team: Tennessee Titans

Players: Jason Schepler, Adam Schiltz, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Delanie Walker

Analysis: The Tennessee Titans got rid of long time super-athletic-but-sucks-on-Sundays Jared Cook last season, and replaced him with an upstart Delanie Walker from the SF 49ers. Dubbed the "Swiss Army Knife" for his penchant to be able to play just about any position on offense, we were all excited to see how he performed. He proved to be one of our most important offensive players, as evidenced by his injury in the 2nd Colts game and how downhill the TE game went from there. Walker, escaping from under the shadow of Vernon Davis, posted career highs in yards (571), receptions (60), and TDs (6). His role is likely to be more TE oriented this year, catching and blocking, rather than lining up all over the field. However, that means his production should increase instead of decrease. Look for Walker to post even better numbers than he did last season, particularly yards. Craig Stevens has never been an elite pass catching TE, but wasn't given much of an opportunity to do that last year. He is known for his blocking, but he should get more looks in the passing game this season. Then comes the wildcard of the group, Taylor Thompson. Thompson is a big dude and an impressive special teams player, constantly delivering pancake blocks on opponents. He hasn't been given much of an opportunity himself on offense, but under better coaching, it could open things up for him concerning his offensive repertoire. He'll continue to be the special teams stud that he is, and he may be given more offensive opportunities as well. This is really his time to show he is ready to contribute as a true TE. Schepler and Schiltz are longshots to make the roster. I did not list Dorin Dickerson here because the Titans website has him listed as a WR.

DD's Projected Opening Day Depth Chart: Delanie Walker (starter), Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson

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So, here is how I would rank the TE group from bottom to top in the AFC South:

4) Jacksonville Jaguars. If Marcedes Lewis is healthy, then he's a decent starter and a good option in the Jaguars passing game. Even with him, the Jaguars TE group is less than stellar. If Lewis were to get injured, the Jaguars will be relying on several unproven players, and that doesn't help an already lackluster offense.

3) Houston Texans. I like Garrett Graham a lot, and he might surprise a lot of people this season. C.J. Fiedorowicz should develop into a solid option for the Texans and can provide a lot of mismatches with his size. But it's a group with no outstanding player, much like Jacksonville, but the upside is higher with this group than it is with the Jaguars.

2) Tennessee Titans. I'm straying from the homer pick like I did with the RBs, but I'm putting us at 2 simply off of what's behind Walker. Delanie is a great player and I would take him over Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen every day of the week. But Stevens isn't the most athletic TE, and Thompson is still unproven as an offensive weapon. We saw how much an injury to Walker caused this group to suffer last season. I thought we might address this in the draft, potentially with a 2nd round guy like Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Jace Amaro, but we decided to roll with who we got. I love who we got, but without Walker, there's not much pass catching talent to go around.

1) Indianapolis Colts. I put them at number 1 because of the 1-2 punch with a healthy Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. It's the offseason, and there's no telling if they'll be healthy when the season starts, in which case these rankings shift. But both are good enough to start in my opinion, and while I don't think either are as talented as Walker, I believe the 2 of them provides better depth than what we have behind Walker. They also have a wildcard of their own in Jack Doyle.

I'm sure you'll disagree with this and it sucks to put Indy at #1 at anything. You can't go wrong with us at #1, because Walker is a stud. I'm trying to look at these positions as subjectively as possible and take into account the entire group over a single player, and where that puts a team in the rankings. I also apologize for the [insert player here] parts on the depth charts, but since this is such an early prediction at such things, I have no clue how some of those situations will turn out.

Thanks for reading, next time we'll take a look at the long-awaited QB groups.

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