Breakout Player Recap: Tight End

12174883_GLike receivers, breakouts for tight ends have seemingly become more common as the league remains very pass friendly. Despite that, this was not a very good year for me in terms of my projections at the position. Whether it was injuries, the opportunities not taking shape, or the player not making a leap, things didn’t work out. What I wrote about these tight ends can be found here.

Clive Walford, Raiders: When I picked Walford to take his game to the next level, there were reports that he would be a bigger part of the Raiders offense in 2016. Despite starting seven more games and playing over 200 more snaps, Walford’s stats in 2016 were almost identical to his rookie season. Walford’s 52 targets in 2016 were only two more than his rookie season, and he finished the year with 359 yards and three touchdowns. With Jared Cook joining the team in free agency, it’s unlikely Walford will see his passing game role increase in 2017.

Hit or miss: Miss

Coby Fleener, Saints: Considering the role tight ends had within the Saints offense in recent years, Fleener’s signing last offseason looked like it would be a situation he could thrive in. Instead, he ended up showing the same inconsistency we’ve seen up to this point. Fleener had a healthy role in the Saints offense with 80 targets thrown his way, and for the year he hauled in 50 passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns.

While there were some big games during 2016, Fleener mixed that in with seven games of less than 30 receiving yards. Fleener could eventually figure things out or have the year many have expected out of the blue, but now entering year six it looks more like a trend.

Hit or miss: Push

Zach Miller, Bears: Talent was never a question regarding Miller, but durability unfortunately is a major part of the grueling game known as football. After showing some serious flashes late in 2015, Miller was going into 2016 on a high note and with a clear role in the Bears passing attack. He responded by posting career highs with 47 catches for 486 yards and four touchdowns on 64 targets. Unfortunately, Miller’s season came to an end with a broken foot in mid November which brought his year to a close after 10 games.

With the Bears adding Dion Sims in the offseason and drafting Adam Shaheen in the second round this past April, some Bears reporters have said Miller could need a fantastic camp showing to make the final roster. While there is still untapped potential, Miller who turns 33 in October could be running out of chances.

Hit or miss: Push

Crockett Gillmore, Ravens: When I put Gillmore here, I figured he would be the starting tight end after Ben Watson had torn his Achilles, and Dennis Pitta faced health concerns due to his numerous hip injuries. Pitta ended up staying healthy and had a career year in terms of receptions and passes thrown his way, while Gillmore being the one who dealt with numerous injuries. In 2016, Gilmore played in seven games, due to hamstring, thigh, what he later said was a broken back, and needed two shoulder surgeries this offseason which forced him to miss OTA’s.

In the seven games, Gillmore managed to catch eight passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. There is still a lot of uncertainty at tight end for the Ravens entering 2017, so if Gillmore can stay healthy his skill set at 6’6″ 260 pounds certainly makes him a player to watch.

Hit or miss: Miss

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