The St. Louis Rams tight end group is one that Coach Jeff Fisher feels content with. The team did not address the position much at all in the offseason. The addition of Jared Cook last year was a huge move to bolster the position. Cook is no doubt the best talent for the Rams, but we all know the tight end position requires much more than raw athleticism.
Behind Cook, there are two returning players from 2013: Lance Kendricks and Corey Harkey; both of whom have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Kendricks was drafted out of Wisconsin by the Rams as more of a playmaking, pass-catching tight end. This transition to the NFL did not go quite as planned; however, Kendricks has proven to be more effective in the blocking aspect of the position. A lot of dropped passes and missed opportunities has hurt Kendricks and this team in the past. I look for him to get a good amount of playing time due to his strength as a run blocker and this team’s transition into a run-first offense.
Along with Kendricks and Cook, the Rams have Cory Harkey. Harkey is very similar to Kendricks, an undrafted free agent out of UCLA; Harkey is more of a block-first tight end. Showing very little explosive quickness or pass-catching ability he is not going to wow you running down the field. However, he will get very physical in the trenches, help this running game get going (he can also play fullback), and on the rare reception he is a nightmare for opposing defenses to tackle, as the Saints found out last year.
The main focus for the Rams at tight end is Cook, who came over last year as a free agent from Tennessee. Cook started off red hot last year in week one against Arizona, with seven receptions for 141 yards and two scores. This was the player Rams fans wanted and expected to see for this offense. However, for the rest of the year, Cook didn’t come close to replicating those single-game numbers.
Cook never topped 100 receiving yards in a game after Week 1 and in fact only topped 50 receiving yards once after that explosive first game. He only totaled three more touchdowns outside of Week 1. Even without another breakout game, Cook still led the team in receiving yards (671) and touchdowns (5). Hopefully with a healthy Sam Bradford throwing him the ball, Cook will raise his game and production.
This group of tight ends should work perfectly for the offensive scheme the Rams have, a few big blockers, as well as the catch-first guy in Cook. Pounding the ball behind Kendricks and Harkey should open up passing lanes in the playaction game down the middle of the field to Cook.