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SmashMouth 07-27-2010 06:24 AM

Saints T.E.'s
New Orleans Saints position series: Tight end |
In anticipation of the New Orleans Saints upcoming training camp, we will be running a series of online position-by-position breakdowns with our bests guesses as to who will make the final 53-man roster. Along with these breakdowns, we will also run interactive polls so that the voice of Who Dat Nation can be heard.

Ted Jackson/The Times-Picayune
New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey trots down the field during afternoon practice at minicamp Friday.

At the tight end position, the charismatic Jeremy Shockey is obviously a virtual lock to make the 53-man roster after hauling in 48 receptions for 569 yards in 2009 despite missing the final three games of the season with an injured toe. After eight NFL seasons, Shockey remains one of the more talented tight ends in the NFL, and excels in both the passing and running games. Shockey was limited, however, at the end of last season with a toe injury, and suffered a bizarre fainting incident during the teams OTAs in June. After eight extremely physical seasons in the NFL, it is worth wondering whether Shockey may be beginning to break down.

Behind Shockey, the sure-handed David Thomas is also a safe bet to make the team. Thomas impressed in the passing game last season, catching 35 balls for 356 yards. While not as spectacular as Shockey, Thomas outperformed his more known counterpart on a number of occasions last season, and became a favorite of Drew Brees in short yardage situations. Thomas is also a fairly versatile player, having lined up as a fullback on a number of occasions last season.

The third tight end figures to be one of the most intriguing physical prospects on the Saints roster, third round pick Jimmy Graham. A University of Miami product, Graham played only one year of football for the Hurricanes, focusing instead on basketball. Graham was productive during his one season, finishing with five touchdown receptions, but was drafted largely due to his unique athletic ability. At 6'6" and 290 pounds, Graham ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and possesses a 38.5-inch vertical leap. He is obviously extremely raw and will struggle initially with his technique, but it won't hurt to have the fellow Hurricane Shockey around to show Graham the ins and outs of the position.

In 2009, the Saints kept four tight ends. This appears to be less likely this season with increased depth at other positions, but if Sean Payton decides to keep four it will mean a battle between former Green Bay Packer Tory Humphrey and former UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen. Humphrey has the advantage over Lorenzen in terms of NFL experience, having started seven games for the Packers in 2008. The 6'2", 255-pound Humphrey ran a 4.47 40-yard dash while at Central Michigan, and is known more for his abilities as a receiver and on special teams than as a blocker.

Lorenzen, who only began playing tight end last season, is probably more of a developmental project than Humphrey. At 6'5" and 235 pounds, Lorenzen needs to add bulk to be an effective blocker. What's more problematic than his raw weight is his lack of leg strength, which is a bad problem to have if you're an NFL tight end. He does have more long-term potential than Humphrey and a very high football IQ from his days as a quarterback. Don't be surprised if Lorenzen is able to stick around for another season on the practice squad.

Can't wait to see what Graham brings to the table.

neugey 07-27-2010 07:48 AM

Re: Saints T.E.'s
Are Billy Miller and Dinkins still in the picture?

QBREES9 07-27-2010 08:28 AM

Re: Saints T.E.'s
Billy Miller is one of Drews Best friend. All he does is catch the ball. I love that guy. I like to see Tyler step up.

dizzle88 07-27-2010 01:22 PM

Re: Saints T.E.'s
Think Graham was listed as 6"8 and 260 pounds, but still at that size running a 40 yard dash in 4.56 is insane! Hes gunna be an animal. BIG MAN WITH FOOTBALL!

darstep 07-27-2010 03:12 PM

Re: Saints T.E.'s
David Thomas was more impressive after the catch, and it seemed he caught everything. Shockey tends to hit the deck when he makes adjustments on the ball. Peyton likes these BIG versatile guys and keeps a lot of TE's around. He pulled a couple off the the shelf when the ankles and bone spurs started pestering. I hope we get a good look at the rookie. If he's a PLAYER, and our guys think that he is, he'll quickly pick up on the details and the technique.

MatthewT 07-27-2010 05:57 PM

Re: Saints T.E.'s
Very safe to assume Shockey is getting very close to the end of his career. I see Shockey going maybe another 2 years and that will be about it for him.

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