Last year was the year of the tight end with Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski putting up seasons that were ridiculous even by receiver standards. The position has completely changed over the past few years as teams are now finding players that are 6’5 or 6’6 that can run past linebackers and out leap defensive backs. Here are some players that could have a big impact this upcoming season.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: If you’re looking for a tight end who could eventually make a Gronkowski like impact, Rudolph is the one for you. At 6’6 258 he has fantastic size and has the athleticism teams look for in tight ends. With a young quarterback in Christian Ponder, Rudolph should be looked to early and often and for his size alone should be good for at least six or seven touchdowns.
Lance Kendricks, Rams: Many thought Kendricks would have a huge rookie season in 2011 but that wasn’t the case. This could be attributed to Kendericks going through growing pains and Sam Bradford being banged up. The Rams made sure to add some young weapons for Bradford this offseason which should open up the middle of the field for Kendricks to work.
Jacob Tamme, Broncos: Tamme hasn’t received much playing time in the first four years of his career with the Colts. The exception to this was when he took over as a starter in 2010 when Dallas Clark went down with an injury. Tamme went on to record 67 receptions and four touchdowns. His quarterback of course was none other than Peyton Manning who he teams up with in Denver. While Manning is still adjusting to his new receivers, look for Tamme to be targeted early and often when the season begins.
Greg Olsen, Panthers: Olsen was productive his first year with the Panthers but 2012 is when he should really take his game to the next level. With Jeremy Shockey gone, Olsen is now the clear number one tight end for a Panthers offense that will be throwing the ball frequently. His size and athleticism is comparable to the game’s elite tight ends so it is only a matter of time until Olsen joins them.