If Zach Ertz can return by Week 1, the Arizona Cardinals will have a solid tight end duo. But what about the rest of the unit?
While it took some time, the Arizona Cardinals may have hit it big with 2022 second round pick Trey McBride. Between Weeks 1 and 9, McBride logged just three catches for 24 yards, doing next to nothing and falling short of expectations.
The following week, Zach Ertz went down with a knee injury and McBride stepped up, amassing 26 catches over the last eight games for 241 yards, and a touchdown. He also enjoyed a 72.2% catch percentage in that frame. Impressive, to say the least, considering the fact that it seemed like he had a new quarterback lining up under center each week.
If McBride enters 2023 as the TE1, it will help out Colt McCoy or Clayton Tune, who appear to be the front runners to win the starting job at quarterback unless Kyler Murray surprises everyone and suits up for Week 1.
Arizona Cardinals tight ends could carry backup quarterbacks
McBride is a surefire talent expected the make a jump in Year 2, but if Zach Ertz returns in time to start the season, the Cards will have a pair of talents underneath who will provide the ultimate security blanket for McCoy or Tune in third-and-short situations, at the goal line, or even if there is no one open downfield.
Despite the overall talent between McBride and Ertz, the Cardinals would do better if another tight end stepped up to become an insurance policy. At this point, none of the names stand out, with Blake Whiteheart, Noah Togiai, Joel Honigford, Chris Pierce, and Bernhard Seikovits making up the rest of the preseason lineup.
Of the group, Seikovits could be the front runner to land the TE3 job after he spent the previous two seasons on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. He’s more familiar with the players around him, including McCoy and Murray.
So what’s the verdict on this group? If Ertz returns in time, I’m giving the Cardinals tight ends a B entering the season, but a C if they have a pair of unknowns lining up behind McBride.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)