Last season the St Louis Rams saw a bit of a youth movement at the tight end position. They drafted Michael Hoomanawanui out of Illinois in the fifth round, and 38 picks later they selected Fendi Onobun out of Houston. While they still held on to veterans such as Daniel Fells and Billy Bajema, it was obvious they wanted more offensive production out of the position.
Now this season they’ve gone even younger, drafting Wisconsin’s Lance Kendricks and allowing Daniel Fells to leave for Denver. With all of the youth at the position, it should be quite a battle for playing time. So when preseason ends and the Rams form their 53-man roster, which role will each tight end be filling? Let’s take a look:
The St Louis Rams’ second-round pick this season has quickly established himself in camp and preseason as a threat in the passing game. In the opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Kendricks came up with a few big catches, one of which was a touchdown pass on third down. Kendricks stands at 6’3″ and 243 lbs, making him a big target in the red zone and one that Sam Bradford should develop plenty of trust and chemistry with throughout the season.
If I had to bet, I’d say Kendricks is the Rams’ starting tight end heading into the regular season.
‘Illinois Mike’ emerged last season as a possible threat in the passing game, racking up 146 yards and three touchdowns while missing half a season’s worth of games due to injury. His large size at 6’4″ and 264 lbs makes him a menace in the open field and red zone, and Bradford appeared to be comfortable tossing the ball Hoomanawanui’s way.
He possesses average blocking skills although those skills should improve as he receives more playing time this season. As long as Hoomanawanui can stay healthy this season, he could be as high as the Rams’ number two option at tight end, but expect him to primarily be the third option.
Bajema is likely the Rams’ best blocking tight end, and that is why the Rams have decided to keep the veteran on amidst a large youth movement. He brings a small presence to the passing game, picking up 145 yards and two touchdowns through 14 games last season. With Kendricks and Hoomanawanui on the roster, Bajema likely won’t see much time in passing situations or shotgun formations, but he’ll still be relied upon to open up a hole for running back Steven Jackson.
Expect Bajema to open the season as the team’s number two tight end, with Hoomanawanui right on his heels.
The Houston-product only played one year of college football before the Rams drafted him in 2010. Therefore, the Rams will show plenty of patience with the development of Onobun over the next season or two. A former basketball player, Onobun has good size and better athleticism than most tight ends. The Rams are hoping Onobun can develop into the next Antonio Gates, but as of now Onobun is a back of the depth chart tight end who won’t see much playing time early on.
Schuylar Oordt, Demarco Cosby
Oordt and Cosby are two undrafted free agents that aren’t expected to make the 53-man roster. Oordt has impressive size at 6’7″ and 261 lbs, but he lacks adequate blocking skills and catching skills, making him a long shot to beat out any of the four previously mentioned tight ends.
Cosby stands at 6’3″ and 240 lbs and has displayed versatility in the field, capable of playing fullback or tight end. He comes from nearby Central Missouri and was born in Kansas City, MO. If anything, Cosby could have a shot at making the team simply because he brings value at more than one position.
Regardless, these two will likely end up on the practice squad or cut.