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Arizona Cardinals Community Projections: Leonard Pope

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With the top three recievers accounted for, our community projections can now move onto another pass catching position, tight end. If you haven't made your projections for Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin or Steve Breaston, you still have time so click on each player and put your projections on record.  Pope2_medium

Leonard Pope, third round pick in 2006, will be a restricted free agent after this season and he needs to have a career year. He had a better sophomore season in 2007 and he became a threat in the red zone where his 6'8 height is a major asset. In a league with so many great tight ends he'll need to improve his overall numbers though if he wants to step out of the shadows at his position. He's also got some internal pressure from Ben Patrick who was making a push for playing time before a high ankle sprain against the Chiefs. Pope's not a dynamic player and he won't run by many defenders but his size gives him at an advantage over anyone he's facing. Pope got stronger towards the end of 2007 before an ankle injury ended his season in week 14. He averaged nearly three receptions for 28 yards per game during his final five games and while that doesn't sound overly impressive it would project out to 45 receptions for 450 yards over the course of an entire season. Pope needs to continue improve every aspect of his game but there are signs that he's starting to put it all together. Here's a look at his career numbers:

Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2007 13 23 238 10.3 5
2006 16 16 161 10.1 -
Total 29 39 399 10.2 5

The Cardinals need him as a consistent red zone threat and safety valve for either Warner or Leinart but if his game doesn't continue to grow he could be looking up at Ben Patrick sooner rather than later. Thoughts? Can Pope become a legitimate threat at  tight end and hold off Ben Patrick? You know the drill: Projections in the subject line and explanation in the body of your comment. Here's my take:

16 games, 40 Rec, 420 yards (10.5 yards per), 7 TDs