The biggest catastrophe on the Cardinals depth chart is the tight end position; and that’s where Aaron Hernandez comes in. He won’t be available during the 2013-2014 season in all likelihood and wont be seen performing until the made for TV movie releases.
Before I go over options I want to point out that the new offensive scheme requires 2 tight ends to play a 50/50 role. That means they are equal blockers in the run game and can equally ditch their block and become a receiver. This keeps the defender honest in not knowing what the tight end will do on each play. Anthony Sherman’s trade made him a casualty of this new scheme. Two versatile ends make a better weapon than a one dimensional fullback.
This video is a example of how it will work. 83 a tight end goes in motion to block or receive. The defense must account for both. Notice the defense has eight in the box looking for run, which is a valid option if Andrew Luck wishes to do so but instead he lobs it to the second tight-end Coby Fleener #80.
When reviewing the Cardinals depth chart at tight end, I exclude our only valuable option Rob Housler who came on to his scouted potential late last year. We then have Jeff King and Jim Dray who are noted as blocking tight ends. Combined they had 19 catches for 144 yards and 0 touchdowns in 2012. Any of the options I list below have individual stats that eclipse both King and Dray.
The hottest option is Dallas Clark. A legitimate veteran at 34 he is being sought after by the Patriots due to the loss of aforementioned Hernandez. Equal in blocking and catching, his age will slow him down but he is a quality option for the red-zone.
David Thomas is also being reviewed by the Patriots and is listed as the second best option. He too is a legit veteran at 30 but accounted for 4 touchdowns for the Saints last year. In summary he is a 4-year younger Dallas Clark. Lastly i mention Travis Beckum. Recovered from a knee injury last year, he is the only option i found that can stretch the field like Housler. Beckum would only need some extra training to learn how to hold his block long enough to spring any of the Cardinals backs. The 26 year old Beckum almost had 100 yards in 2011 off 5 catches and a touchdown. In minimal usage he still can do more than the current depth combined.