Previewing the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles: Backup Tight Ends

This is the fourth article in a series in which I will take a look at the expected backup positions on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.

As fans, we know who the starters will be for almost every position next year. Michael Vick is the quarterback, LeSean McCoy is the running back, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the wide receivers. We know all that.

What we don’t know yet as fans is who will be the backups at most positions, so this ten-part series will highlight my predictions for the non-starters on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles. (Click here to read the backup quarterbacks and backup running backs and the backup wide receivers.)

Tight Ends:
Again, just like with the other positions, there is no chance that anybody but Brent Celek is the team’s starter heading into the 2012 season. Celek has been starting since midway through the 2008 season and he’s been a slightly above average tight end for the past three and a half seasons. He had a couple of offseason surgeries but he will be fully healthy heading into 2012.

The spot for Celek’s backup basically comes down to a battle between two players: Clay Harbor and Brett Brackett.

Harbor was the team’s fourth round draft pick in 2010. He has been on the roster for the past two seasons, and while he is a good blocker, he’s caught a combined total of 22 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns in 25 games.

Those are definitely below average numbers for a backup tight end, and in this day and age, your backup tight end should be good enough that he could start if he needed to. Look at Aaron Hernandez, Dennis Pitta, John Carlson, and Martellus Bennett. Those are four backup tight ends, all who could start if needed.

Harbor probably couldn’t start in this league. I don’t think anybody thinks he could.

However, the other option is Brett Brackett, and he’s never even played tight end. Literally.

He went to Penn State, where he played wide receiver for all four seasons. He went undrafted and spent training camp last season with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars.

He didn’t make either team and was signed by the Eagles in November, where he’s spent the past seven months learning the team’s playbook. He’s reportedly done very well catching the ball at OTAs but no one will really know anything until the players put their pads on.

So it really comes down to a battle between Harbor and Brackett. The Eagles also have an undrafted tight end named Chase Ford, but he has such a slim chance of making the roster that I didn’t include him.

I’ll say Harbor wins the job over Brackett, and the Eagles keep just two tight ends, meaning Celek and Harbor are on the team for next season.


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