Month: June 2013

Tight ends top the bill in 2014

Not many tight ends look this good in the open field

It’s round about this time of year you formulate a man crush. Not that you can’t move on to others. This isn’t a marriage. No commitment. Merely a crush. Things can change during the season. But for now, you just want to see more.

Having successfully negotiated the whole ‘franchise quarterback’ problem, 2013 was a fairly pleasant draft to follow for Seahawks fans. No needlessly heated debates. For whatever reason, quarterback conversations don’t tend to be civil among fans. I’ve never quite worked out why.

2014 will hopefully be a similarly pleasant journey. And it’s a journey that starts with a pair of tight ends from the PNW.

Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Oregon’s Colt Lyerla are intriguing for a number of reasons. They’re big, unnaturally athletic players. They’ve both played other positions for a few snaps. And they both have some baggage.

While the NFL media fawns over the read option and whether it’s just a fad, the reality is guys like ASJ and Lyerla are the ones changing the game. They take bigger, faster, stronger to a whole new level. These types of players are just as important as the #1 receiver these days. It’s why we’re starting to see more and more tight ends appearing among the leading receivers in the league.

The Seahawks don’t really have a guy like that. Zach Miller is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and showed that in the second half of last season. Yet he’s slightly more orthodox. He’s a classical type who blocks well and offers a solid target for the quarterback. He’s not the Gronk, though. Or Jimmy Graham. Or Antonio Gates. Or Vernon Davis. You get the picture.

Seattle doesn’t necessarily need a player like that, but they’re in a position where they can get picky about which luxuries they want to invest in. So who knows, maybe they’ll be in the market for a nice complimentary target to their current group next April?

My interest peaked with ASJ and Lyerla when I saw them playing different positions. Seferian-Jenkins lined up at defensive end and didn’t look out of his depth. Lyerla took some snaps at running back and appeared surprisingly smooth and productive. I mean, when have you see a tight end run the ball, let alone run the ball well? We’re talking about explosive, difference making athletes here. The type you have to game plan for. And that’s exciting.

But then there’s the baggage. Seferian-Jenkins was cited for a DUI earlier this year, while Lyerla went on a bizarre Twitter rant about conspiracy theories regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy. Clearly in both cases, that’s some bad decision making. Neither comes off particularly poorly in interviews. It could be a case of ‘lesson learned’ and move on. Yet you feel obliged to remember this when reviewing both players ahead of possible entry into the NFL.

Both should get the chance to produce within a wide open PAC-12. The Oregon offense shouldn’t miss too many steps minus Chip Kelly, while Washington will hope to take a leap forward in 2013. When football returns in September, these are two players to keep an eye on. But you knew that already.

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