Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Training Camp Roster Breakdown 2009: Tight ends

I included Ernest Wilford in my wide receiver breakdown even though at this point he's probably more of a TE in the eyes of the team. Still, I don't think he's going to make the roster either way. Anyways, here's a look at the four guys currently competing at tight end.

Anthony Fasano
Fasano was a revelation last year. He gave the team a true weapon in the passing game and was probably the best every-down receiving option on the team. Not only that, but he was the only tight end on the team who could hold his own in the running game as a blocker. To put it simply, Fasano is a complete player, and it's been a while since Miami has had one of those at TE. He clearly thrived out of the shadown of Jason Witten in Dallas, and the great part is that he's still only 25 years old. There's still a lot of upside here. Fasano was actually so good in the passing game last year, he finished 4th in the NFL in DVOA (34.8%) and 6th in DYAR (156).

David Martin
Martin's season last year is an enigma. Where did that come from? We knew he had solid receiving skills, but to put up the third best DVOA in the NFL (37.3%) and 10th best DYAR (131)? That was out of left field. If those kind of numbers could be depended on from Martin, then he would deserve a spot on this year's team. But they aren't. And so Martin is very much in danger of losing his roster spot to one of the younger guys who can actually block. Honestly, what about Martin's career would lead you to believe that last year wasn't just some fantastic fluke? He's incredibly injury prone, and he's already undergone sports hernia surgery this offseason. Also, he's 30 years old, so the speed he relies upon so much is getting chipped away at more and more every year. But more importantly, he's never put up a receiving season even remotely close to the one he had last year.

There's also the small issue of a tight end's other major responsibility - blocking. Martin is horrible at this aspect of his job, consistently missing far too many blocking assignments. With the team likely keeping three tight ends, I'm just not sure it's worth cutting ties with one of the promising young guys to keep around an old, injury-prone guy who very well could revert right back to being his mediocre one-dimensional self after a surprisingly good season.

Joey Haynos
Haynos was signed off the Packers' practice squad in late September last year. He was never real active in the passing game although he did have a nice TD catch. The coaching staff seems to like him though, and I'm sure his gigantic size (6'8) has something to do with that. He's definitely still raw, but the tools are there, and if Miami has enough confidence in him to cut ties with David Martin, then Haynos will move into a much larger role this season.

John Nalbone
In the fifth-round of this year's draft, Miami picked a bit of a sleeper player in Nalbone, but I liked the pick. Nalbone was one of the few complete tight ends in the draft. He has excellent hands but can certainly block as well. Because of his excellent hands, it was a bit surprising to hear the reports all through minicamps about how much he was struggling catching the football. But things have seemed to turn around recently in training camp and he's showing off those skills that got him selected. Coming out of Monmouth, his game is obviously still very raw, and it'll take him a while to get acclimated to the NFL level. Even still, there's no way the team is going to cut Nalbone to try and stash him on the practice squad like some people are saying. There's no way he'd clear waivers. I'd much rather cut David Martin, and let Joey Haynos and Nalbone comprise the second and third strings on the TE depth chart. Nalbone's potential is as a starting TE, and he could even surpass Haynos on the depth chart later on this season.


Here are the KUBIAK projections for Fasano and Martin:



Here's my predicted depth chart:
1. Anthony Fasano
2. Joey Haynos
3. John Nalbone

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