Aug 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) covers Arizona Cardinals tight end John Carlson (89) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
When we look at the Arizona Cardinals’ team, we all can easily see how deep they are at the wide receiver position and at defensive back. What tends to be overlooked when analyzing the Cards, is the tight end position.
An expected starting tight end, Jake Ballard, retired from the Cardinals just two weeks ago. This left many Cardinal fans wondering who will step up next at the tight end position.
So lets analyze who we’ve got…
John Carlson – Carlson has 7 years of NFL experience playing for Seattle and then for Minnesota. In Carlson’s first 2 years in Seattle, he put up a combined 1200 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions. This was good enough to place Carlson in the record books in Seattle claiming the top two spots for the most receiving yards in a single season by a tight end. The past 3 seasons for Carlson have been much different. Carlson has only combined for 700 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now, Carlson looks to go back to his old self and put up large numbers for a Cardinals offense that loves to get the tight ends involved in the passing game.
Troy Niklas – Niklas was a 2nd round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2014 draft out of Notre Dame. In 2013, Niklas put up 500 receiving yards and 5 touchdown receptions for the Fighting Irish. This was a good enough season to make Niklas a high selection in the NFL draft, but should he had gone that high all based off one season? That is a debate for another time but, regardless, Niklas in his first year starting, put a big numbers for a good Notre Dame team. Niklas will be a little late to the party, though, as a broken hand in OTAs has kept him out all summer but he should be ready to go in the next week or two. Hopefully, now, he can translate his college numbers to the NFL level.
Rob Housler – The only remaining tight end who has playing experience with the Arizona Cardinals. Housler has spent 3 years with the Cards and, in the past 2 years, has gone over 400 receiving yards. Housler has the playing experience with the team and has produced so should he be a lock for the starting tight end position? No. A major knock on Housler is how he has only gone into the end-zone for a touchdown 1 time in his career. Also, 400 yards in a season when starting the majority of games is simply considered to be average. He is a durable player who the Cardinals will be able to count on when other guys go down but he should not be considered a featured tight end.
Darren Fells – Fells is an interesting player who we all should keep an eye on throughout the preseason. Fells has never played in a professional football game. In fact, he has never even played college football. Fells was apart of the Seattle Seahawks practice squad last year but never has gone into a game .These days, it is almost unheard of when a player makes a NFL roster without pro or college experience. Fells will try to prove this notion wrong. Here is another thing…he is already 28 years old…and he has been playing professional basketball overseas for multiple years. Yes, you heard that right. He was a power forward for pro basketball teams in Belgium, Finland, and Argentina. When we think about professional basketball players, we think of athleticism and height. This is what we have with Fells who is 6 feet 7 inches all and is quick with his feet.
Andre Hardy – Surprisingly enough, Hardy can very well be compared to Darren Fells. Hardy, like Fells, has never played college football, played in a professional football game, and is also a basketball player. Hardy spent all four years of college playing basketball. Hardy, like Fells, will be an interesting player to watch during the preseason as it will be fascinating to see how former basketball players use their skill sets in the NFL.
It is likely the Arizona Cardinals will only keep 3 and maybe 4 tight ends on the roster. With all the tremendous depth the Cards have at wide receiver also, it would not be a surprise if the Cards kept 6 receivers which would take one spot away from the tight ends possibly.
All of these players have their strong points but also their weaknesses so lets play close attention to this group for the rest of the preseason and see who will be left standing and who will be sent packing.
Next Arizona Cardinals Game:
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