For over three decades, the tight end has been an underutilized aspect of the Arizona Cardinals franchise. No matter who was running the scoring attack, anyone who lined up at the position was usually an afterthought. It was difficult to fathom why the Cards continued to undervalue an offensive weapon that many other NFL teams have had so much success with.
Former Arizona general manager Steve Keim ultimately addressed the issue with the club's first pick of the 2022 draft. Trey McBride, an all-around performer out of Colorado State University, was acquired in Round 2. Had the Redbirds finally obtained a tight end with legitimate star potential?
During last Sunday's 25-23 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons, McBride electrified the State Farm Stadium fans with a sensational outing. With starting quarterback Kyler Murray back under center, the 23-year-old McBride hauled in eight of the nine passes that were thrown his way. It was the yardage accumulated by the youngster, however, that really caught the attention of Cardinals historians.
Trey McBride has the potential to be the best tight end in the history of the Arizona Cardinals franchise
For the first time since 1989, a "Big Red" tight end reached the century mark with 131 receiving yards. The last member of the franchise to accomplish that feat was Robert Awalt, a gifted pass-catcher who was credited with 105 yards on six catches back in November of '89. That impressive outing by the native of Germany helped the Cards record a 24-20 victory over the hated Dallas Cowboys.
The tight end spot was actually a prominently-featured part of the Cardinals offense during the late 1980's. During that time, both Awalt and former sixth-round selection Jay Novacek became favorite targets of legendary passer Neil Lomax. The skilled route runners were heavily-utilized on passing downs, and combined with phenomenal wideouts like Roy Green and to J.T. Smith to provide Lomax with a magnificent set of targets to throw to.
If you really want to go back in time, Jackie Smith is a Hall of Fame tight end who was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 1963. Zach Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowler, was a fine acquisition back in 2021 who's time on the field has been cut short by injuries. Other recognizable individuals who played the position for the franchise include Doug Marsh, Freddie Jones, Jermaine Gresham, Chris Gedney, and Todd Heap.
McBride possesses the drive and talent to be better than all of them. The 6 foot 4, 250 pounder made history by accomplishing what he did last weekend versus Atlanta. The Arizona fanbase can only hope that McBride will rack up many more brilliant performances going forward.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)