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2018 Arizona Cardinals TEs and FBs

Looking at the tight ends and fullbacks on the Arizona Cardinals, in free agency and the draft.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2017 TE Receiving Stats:

Receptions: 33-Gresham; 12-Seals-Jones; 11-Niklas; 1-Momah

Yards: 322-Gresham; 201-Seals-Jones; 132-Niklas; 46-Momah

Yards per catch: 46.0-Momah; 16.8-Seals-Jones; 12.0-Niklas; 9.8-Gresham

TDs: 3-Seals-Jones; 2-Gresham; 1-Niklas

Analysis: The production of the Cardinals’ 2017 TE group was the worst in the NFL. The Eagles’ TE Zach Ertz had 17 more receptions, 123 more yards and 2 more TDs than the entire Cardinals’ unit combined.

PFF Grades: Gresham (47.4, #45 TE); Niklas (42.4, #66 TE); Seals-Jones (76.3, NR).

Under Contract for 2018:

84 Gresham, Jermaine (6-5 260 29 9 Oklahoma)---last year the Cardinals awarded him a contract of 4/$28M/$16.5Mg. He counts $7.2M on the 2018 cap. By comparison, the Redskins signed defensive captain D.J. Swearinger to a contract of 3/$13M/$9Mg/2018 cap hit of $4.3M. Gresham’s play in 2017 was wildly inconsistent in blocking and receiving. He’s still penalty prone, but the Cardinals insist that they like the physical aspects of his play. Unfortunately, he ruptured an Achilles at the end of the year and it is possible he will not be a full go at the start of training camp.

85 Holmes, Gabe (6-5 255 26 4 Purdue)---signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2015, Holmes has spent time on the Raiders’, Seahawks’, Ravens’ and Cardinals’ practice squads. he was activated to the Cardinals’ roster late in the season after Gresham’s injury. He has yet to record a reception in an NFL game. Has good size and athleticism, but is raw and inexperienced.

86 Seals-Jones, Ricky (6-5 243 22 2 Texas A&M)---was the nice surprise during the second half of the season, when he burst onto the scene with 12 catches for 201 yards and 3 TDs. He is now the brightest hope in what has become a depleted and underperforming group.


80 Momah, Ifeanyi (6-7 255 28 4 Boston College)---has the worst luck when it comes to injuries. Has turned heads in the pre-season the last few years, but was lost to a broken wrist mid-way into the 2016 season and lost to a broken leg early in the 2017 season. When healthy, he’s an athletic, tall receiver who fights hard for every yard after the catch. His one catch on the season was a 46 yard dandy. His blocking remains a work in progress, but he has shown improvement.


87 Niklas, Troy (6-6 270 25 5 Notre Dame)---the Cardinals 2014 2nd round draft pick has been a major disappointment due to years of injuries and inconsistent play. At times in 2017, Niklas looked like he was going to break out---but his blocking was inconsistent and he dropped what would have been a game winning TD versus Washington. Was supposed to be one of the best blocking TEs in the 2014 draft, but that promise has been unfulfilled. Not sure what kind of interest he will garner on the UFA market, but, in light of his injury history, signing him to a multi-year deal is a risk.

Top UFA TEs:

Jimmy Graham (31)---poor blocker who regressed as a receiver in Seattle.
Tyler Eifert (27)---coming off 2 back surgeries, when healthy he’s a very good receiver.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (25)---tall and athletic TE had a good season with the Jets who want him back.
Trey Burton (26)---hybrid TE/WR who creates mismatches against LBers and smaller DBs. Virgil Green (29)---has yet to have a breakout season, but has talent and works hard.
Niles Paul (28)---smallish TE who has 856 yards and 2 TDs for his career (12.2 ypc)
Luke Willson (28)---showed promise as a receiver but injuries and drops have been an obstacle.
Antonio Gates (37)---still feels he has “the juice” to play, now overshadowed in LA by Hunter Henry. McCoy interested?
Ed Dickson (30)---has ties to Wilks/Brown as Panther’s #2 TE, had a line of 30/437/14.6/1 TD in 2017. One game versus the Lions he caught 5 passes for 155 yards.
Darren Fells (31)---speaking of the Lions, Fells started the season strong, has 2 TDs versus Carolina, maybe Wilks/Holcomb/Brown took notice. The Lions at times flexed him wide. Wasn’t targeted much 2nd half of season.

Top TEs in 2018 NFL Draft: (Per Mel Kiper’s Rankings, with my notes)

1. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State---2 1,000 yard seasons in a row with 18 TDs combined---some teams have medical concerns on him.

2. *Mark Andrews, Oklahoma---athletic seam buster (62/958/8TD in 2017), Mayfield’s favorite target. Not a strong blocker.

3. *Hayden Hurst, South Carolina---turns 25 this year, solid blocker and productive receiver (44/559/2TD in 2017)

4. Mike Gesicki, Penn State---had a good showing at the Senior Bowl after good senior season (57/563/9TD).

5. *Jordan Akins, Central Florida---smallish H-back type who catches well (32/515/4 TDs).

6. Ian Thomas, Indiana---athletic pass catcher (25/376/5TD) who didn’t quite live up to the hype at Indiana.

UFA Fullbacks

Anthony Sherman (29)---still one of the top 3 FBs in the NFL, would love to have him back in AZ.
Zach Line (27)---has developed nicely, clearing space for Ingram and Kamara in New Orleans.
Mike Tolbert (32)---despite age he’s still a top shelf lead blocker, ask Shady McCoy. If we sign QB Tyrod Taylor it would be great to have Tolbert come with him.
Derrick Coleman (27)---has sprung the Falcons’ Freeman and Coleman on some big runs.

Top FBs in 2017 NFL Draft: (per Mel Kiper’s ranking with my notes)

1. Jaylen Samuels, NC State---more of an H-back/TE, but exceptionally versatile and productive.

2. Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma---highly versatile as well, very productive in red zone. Strong, thick and muscular player who can run, block and catch.

3. Nick Bawden, San Diego State---physical, well coached, had a solid week at Senior Bowl and showed why he helped Rashaad Penny lead the nation in rushing.

Summary: The Cardinals will now be using a more traditional offense where the TEs will be featured more in the passing game and, a FB will be employed in running situations to isolation block on the Bobby Wagners of the world. So sick of seeing the Cardinals never iso and get a hat on Wagner. Now he’s not going to be able to run free all game. Thus, Steve Keim and Steve Wilks need to make a few strong additions to the TE/FB group via free agency and the draft. The additions here could be one of the Cardinals’ major keys to success in 2018.