We heard so much last offseason about how important the tight end position would be for the Arizona Cardinals offense under Bruce Arians. Rob Housler was expected to have 80+ receptions and be an impact player.
We know that Arians likes to run a lot of plays with two tight ends, which makes it more difficult for opposing defenses to know what exactly the Cardinals will do offensively.
However, despite having great success with tight ends catching a lot of passes, a player's ability to catch passes at tight end is not what Arians looks for first.
At the Combine on Friday, he said he is "old school."
"You've got to block first then catch passes," he said. "That's why I loved Heath Miller. I think Heath Miller is the
best tight end in the NFL. Not because he catches 90 passes, but because he blocks big defensive ends. And he catches about 60 or 70 passes. The guys who line up as wide receivers might get tagged as wide receivers. Tight ends for me block first, catch second."
This could be why the coaching staff raved about Jake Ballard when he was signed late in the season. Rob Housler has made strides in blocking, but can hardly be called a block-first tight end. Jim Dray was the most reliable, but he wasn't fantastic at any one part of the game. Korry Sperry barely played and D.C. Jefferson was cut during the season.
What does that mean? Well, it probably means that if they draft a tight end in the first or second round, then he better be able to block, too. Blocking isn't something that top prospects Eric Ebron and Jace Amaro are known for.
That doesn't preclude their being drafted by Arizona, but it does provide a little bit of a peek at what types of players the team could be looking for.
Who matches Arians' description of an old school block-first, catch-second tight end? Discuss that in the comment section.