A recent ESPN Insider article by Andy Benoits from Football Outsiders focused on the NFC West and the potential problem positions, or "red flags," for each team. For the Arizona Cardinals, it was not the offensive line, which did get help. It was not the running backs, who have some players who have to show they are durable. It is the tight end position that is supposedly the red flag position.
Benoits writes this about the Arizona tight ends:
On offense, there's a far more troubling hole that Keim was not able to address at all: tight end. That's a concern given that new head coach Bruce Arians runs a base scheme that's built around two-tight end sets. When he was with the Steelers, Arians had a steady underneath pass-catcher and sound on-the-move run-blocker in Heath Miller. He also had a solid in-line blocker in Matt Spaeth. With the Colts, he had Dwayne Allen (a more athletic but less experienced version of Miller), plus a respectable young seam receiver in Coby Fleener.
He goes on to call Rob Housler underdeveloped, which is fair. He recognizes Jeff King. However, Benoits makes a few errors. To start, he is wrong about Keim not addressing the position. What would you call drafting tight end D.C. Jefferson? Sure, he was a seventh rounder, but that is the very definition of addressing the position.
Benoit also completely forgets about Jim Dray. He says that Kory Sperry is the backup behind Housler and King.
In fact, not only did he overlook Dray, but Dray is really the best suited guy to be the versatile tight end Arians wants.
"I want tight ends who are multiple," Arians said. "If you are a defensive coordinator and I send a fullback in and take out a tight end, I will get your best call for that. If I have two tight ends (in the game), and you don't know if one will play fullback or one could split out wide, you're going to give me a down-and-distance (defensive) call. You don't have a specific call. The more flexible tight ends can be, threats at receiver or dual in-line backfield blockers, the more pressure you put on the defense."
Dray is versatile. He can play in line. He can line up as a fullback, which he did last year, as he was the backup behind Anthony Sherman and had to play a bit there when Sherman was banged up from time to time.
Of course, the position is a bit of a red flag. Housler still has yet to show he is that ultra productive pass catcher. King is older and has been banged up. No one else on the roster has shown much, or they are simply inexperienced.
In the end, the premise is correct -- with what Arians wants to do, there is a red flag for right now. But the analysis? There are some holes. While the players on the roster have much to prove, it is he perfect situation to have someone step up and surprise people around the league.
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