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Position Battles: Weighing The Value Of Another Tight End
(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a 12-part series breaking down the battles and competitions at each spot and analyzing what to expect at each position entering training camp. The series continues with the tight end position.)
There are a couple of different directions that the front office can go with the tight end position in regard to the numbers.
Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna and Jordan Najvar have all received work, with Witten and Escobar being the first options when the coaches get into their “12” personnel packages. Coming out of Oxnard in 2013, they had five tight ends on the active roster but no fullback. I believe they might not be able to do that if they decide to keep Tyler Clutts or J.C. Copeland on the roster.
With that thought in mind, Witten and Escobar are locks but now that brings Hanna and Najvar in play -- not competing against each other, but potentially a blocking tight end from another team. As good as Witten was at the point of attack in 2013, I am not exposing him or Escobar to handle that role down-after-down in 2014. Both those players are much too valuable in the passing game to have to subject them to the dangers of inline blocking.
The goal here is to try and take
the wear and tear of a season off them, keeping them healthy in these games. What is interesting about Hanna and his role on the squad is that he is one of the few offensive players that plays on the majority of all the special teams.
The front office and coaching staff would have to do some serious debating about whether having that blocking tight end on the roster would be more valuable than what you get from Hanna on special teams. Keep a sharp eye on how this progresses as we work though camp in Oxnard.