Tight end options

Posted by Darren Urban on May 24, 2013 – 3:33 pm

A recent ESPN Insider article breaking down the holes remaining for each NFC West team marked tight end as the spot in which the Cards have a question mark. Some of that — much of that — has to do with the scheme of new coach Bruce Arians and the fact he likes to use two tight ends. Arians has made that abundantly clear.

The main focus will be the play of Rob Housler, in many ways. Arians has said, as Steelers OC, he considered Housler as a big wide receiver prospect when he was coming out for the draft. Does that color his perspective for Housler as tight end? Housler definitely has potential skills as a seam threat. He remains a work-in-progress as a blocker. This is a big year for him. Veteran Jeff King remains in the final year of his contract. He’s coming off recent knee surgery and hasn’t been practicing but the hope is he will be back soon (Veterans have next week off completely, and the final four OTAs take place the first week of June, when King could return.) Jim Dray played a little fullback last season when Anthony Sherman was hurt, has been good on special teams and has turned into a solid seventh-round pick from 2010. Those are your top three tight ends right now.

The Cards drafted D.C. Jefferson in the seventh round this year, and he certainly looks the part, especially of a pass catcher. But the former quarterback — he didn’t become a tight end until getting to Rutgers — is definitely raw at this point. And it’s tough to figure out if he can block yet given that the Cards aren’t in pads and in shorts. They also have holdover Kory Sperry, who was on the roster part of last season, and recent inexperienced signees Alex Gottlieb and Kyle Auffray.

There are a few tight ends still out there, but probably not an upgrade. Dallas Clark? The Colts let him walk away last year as Arians was coming in as offensive coordinator. Kellen Winslow? Injuries have robbed him of what he provided. Chris Cooley, again, another older player who may not have much left. It’s not like the Cards aren’t doing their due diligence on these guys and if they felt bringing someone in would be worth it, they would — could you doubt that after all the changes this offseason?

That said, I could see them adding someone later, after they get an offseason to sort out what they have.


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35 Responses to “Tight end options”

  1. By DontTakeLosses on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    Been thnking TeamArians will pull something out of the hat at TE, like they did with Los for DWash situation. As thorough as these guys are at beating the bushes, maybe theywill surprise us…

    Read on main page: “just a ton of different weird scenarios where you are thinking, ‘How often is this going to happen?”. I like what Arains (andMoore et al) does. He’s not just teaching “the situation”, he is teaching critical thinking skills and habits to their players. So smart. Love this guy. “Critical” as used in the expression “critical thinking” connotes actively exercising skillful judgment. He’s making it a habit, a way life, a way of thinking that will pay off, play out on the field. He said he was going to teach, dang he is! Bravo.

  2. By infitzwetrust on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    I’ve always been high on Housler and I hope he has a breakout season this year. He’s too big for corners and too fast for linebackers to cover him, perfect mis-match scenario to open up the passing game.

  3. By Voice of Reason on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    I’m usually the first one one here begging for proactive signings. But that was in the Graves administration.

    I can honestly say I’ve been impressed with Keim doing just that — upgrading the talent level thorugh proactivity.

    On the TE position, I actually agree with the approach — having King and Housler, along with keeping Jefferson is fine by me. Dray probably gets cut unless King isn’t healthy. I don’t see a need to pick up another TE at this stage.

  4. By clssylssy on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    I LOVE the position of TE and the philosophy of using multiple TEs that BA is talking about. Having a player like Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham..can be the difference maker and allow the team to own the middle of the field. While we don’t currently have anyone of this caliber, there’s always talent coming along if we’re actually looking. I never had the impression that the TE position was a priority in the past and consequently Housler, Dray , King possibly weren’t developed in a way that allowed them to play up to their potential. I don’t know anything about the new guys, was happy that we took a TE in the draft because it indicated interest in using that position more fully. Good luck with this new focus (I hope), it can potentially kick start and round out our offense!

  5. By Eazy E on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    I think we could definitely add another TE. Housler, King, and Dray ain’t enough production wise. Now, the QBs have a ton to do with that especially with Housler and Carson doesn’t help.

  6. By joe holst on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    dallas drake would be awesome and fit right in.

  7. By Allan on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    Keep an eye on Gottlieb. He could be that diamond in the rough Arians and his staff are looking for in this up tempo offense . Heard he can the F and Y. Excellent blocker. Long snapper too.

  8. By Campbells on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    Both King and Housler are disappointments.
    King is terrible after the catch.
    No excuse for Housler not being able to block at this stage. He isn’t a rookie anymore.
    Definitely an area we didn’t improve upon, unless one of the guys further down the food chain steps-up, in a big way.

  9. By luman on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    The Cards needs another tight end. Don’t forget that Housler and King are both injury prone.

    They also need another tackle for depth

  10. By DON CHRISTENSEN on May 25, 2013 | Reply


  11. By eric on May 25, 2013 | Reply

    darren-is ben watson still a f/a and do you think he could get a look here?

  12. By Darren Urban on May 26, 2013 | Reply

    Eric —

    RE: Watson

    Watson signed with the Saints.

  13. By iammattyoung on May 25, 2013 | Reply

    I know it’s not apropos to this particular thread, but I’m just feeling very optimistic about our chances in this division. It’s real trendy right now to say that the Cards are far behind the other teams in the NFC West, but if you take a closer look, I think that the Cards just may surprise some people. In my opinion, SF is going to regress this year: Frank Gore is 30 and carried the ball 300+ times the last two years, Kendall Hunter is as much a viable every-down back as LaRod was last year, losing Crabtree is going to force Kaepernick to adjust, teams now have 19 games-worth of tape on Kaepernick, the defense was somewhat exposed during the playoffs by giving up 31 points per game during that stretch, AND both St Louis and Seattle present significant challenges for them on the field. Meanwhile, St Louis and Seattle have problems of their own. St Louis has really made some great moves this offseason, but one of their big problems was losing Stephen Jackson. I love Sam Bradford, but he’s the type of guy relies heavily on the misdirection of play-action. Without Jackson, teams will be able to sell out on the pass rush and really pester Bradford. In my opinion, Seattle is the best team in the division. Who could argue when you have Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, AND Marshawn Lynch lining up for you on offense? I think that their defense may end up being a liability with injuries and suspensions already piling up.

    All that being said, the Cardinals could have a real chance in this division if some things go right: the O-line comes together with the arrival/return of Jonathan Cooper and Levi Brown, Carson Palmer puts up similar numbers to last year without the interceptions, Michael Floyd turns into a real threat, and Mendenhall or Williams can actually run the rock.

  14. By Marcus on May 25, 2013 | Reply

    Housler was overthrown so many times in the past, when he would of had a easy touchdown. This will be his break out year with having Palmer. We are fine with are tight ends. If either one gets hurt, the younger guys will have to step up.

  15. By sbrown on May 25, 2013 | Reply

    I would be surprised if Keim made a deal for a TE, unless something falls into his lap, I think they will play the TE’s on the roster. King, could be cut age and injury works against him. Housler has to make an impression, catch the ball and be decent at blocking. Dray did see time at full back, but now under BA that is gone,was also on special teams, don’t know if that is enough to make roster. Gottlieb and Auffray, both street FA’s, maybe one will step up. Jefferson, the seventh round pick, looks like he can handle the blocking tasks now see if he can catch. Last season, Cards had 4 TE’s to start week one, King, Heap, Housler and Dray. IMO, I See them keeping four this season, King, Housler, Jefferson and either Gottlieb / Auffray. or if cut King, then keep both Gottleib and Auffray.

  16. By Leeskicitizen on May 25, 2013 | Reply


    As far as tight ends are concerned, why is proficiency in blocking an issue with so many? Has this always been an issue with tight ends? Since I’ve never played football at any organized level, I’d like to see an article that focuses on this issue.

    Now that we have a premier teaching coaching staff, is it possible to coach Housler, or any of our other tight ends, into being a better blockers?

  17. By Darren Urban on May 26, 2013 | Reply

    Leeskicitizen —

    RE: TE blocking

    There are many running plays (and more) where the TE is essentially an extra OLineman. Yes, it is important. Can they improve? Sure.

  18. By JuanONJuan on May 25, 2013 | Reply

    Tebow for TE… But not QB! At least try it..

  19. By Peter in Canada on May 26, 2013 | Reply

    Darren – The knock on Housler when he arrived was his blocking. So far do you feel he has shown enough improvement that he might be an every play tight end as opposed to a third and long TE. If not could he still fit into the system as a big wideout.

  20. By Darren Urban on May 26, 2013 | Reply

    Peter —

    RE: Blocking and Housler

    I think it’s a fair concern. Tough to tell at this point.

  21. By antonioangelo21 on May 26, 2013 | Reply

    if only whiz hadn’t cut heap at end of last season, he would have been good to have in the mix if he still wanted to play.

  22. By Louisville Card on May 26, 2013 | Reply


    Heap is still available not like anyone else wants him. I’m pretty sure no matter who the coach would’ve been Heap would still be retired. I’m sure if somebody wanted him to come back, he would milk another season’s worth of checks out of that team from the sideline…

  23. By Cody Zarr on May 26, 2013 | Reply

    First of all, Dray is not getting cut. Second, tight ends aren’t necessarily supposed to dazzle you after the catch. King is 6’3″ 260 lbs, what do you propose he does? Razzle dazzle a corner out of his socks? They’re meant to be a big target that creates mismatches. If you can’t see King’s value then you don’t know much about football.

    Sure, its nice to see a physically gifted guy like Housler playing TE but guys like him make a living catching and running, not being known for their blocking. In fact I would argue that most prolific pass catching tight ends are not factors in the run game. I am sure would support that.

    Basically what you’re looking for in a guy like Housler is what he’s already doing + tolerable blocking skills. Guys like Finly, Watson, Olsen, etc are very rarely expected to perform well run blocking on the strong side. Hell, most of them can barely get in the way and mirror guys on the weak side.

    So just relax, we don’t need to scamper out and beg a tight end to come to Arizona. Is it an area of deficiency compared to the rest of the roster? Sure, but there is a lot of potential there.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on Todd Heap.

  24. By Mike Hadzinski C.M. PUNK on May 27, 2013 | Reply

    wow look at the bandwagon housler fans ill make sure to tell his gramps ron you all said hi…

  25. By mal on May 27, 2013 | Reply

    The only team in the entire NFL who did not have a tight end reception for a touchdown last season?

    Yep, the Cards.

    It’s guaranteed — things can only get better.

  26. By wilyb on May 27, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren – what’s the story with the Rams’ roster. If you count 6’10”, 403 lb., rookie tackle Thomas Brown, who is currently shown as a blank in the EXP. column, the Rams have 59 R’s on the ACTIVE roster that is currently available on their website at

    Is this like the NFL’s version of Moneyball? Do you think their low budget strategy can work?

  27. By Darren Urban on May 27, 2013 | Reply

    Wilyb —

    RE: Rams

    Not a shock given a new coach trying to turn over the roster. But let’s see what the ratio is when they cut to 53. That’s a lot of rookies but 47 guys have to be cut.

  28. By Dynosoar on May 27, 2013 | Reply


    “It’s guaranteed — things can only get better.”

    Wish I could give you two thumbs up.

    You are absolutely correct. With the offseason changes that have been made in the front office, coaching staff and players (cuts, FA and draft) we’ll have an enjoyable season as Cardinals fans.

    Not only can things get better, they will. This team is hungry.

  29. By garthshort on May 28, 2013 | Reply

    KC has three TE’s of note: Fasano, a big FA acquisition; Draft pick, Travis Kelce: and veteran Tony Moeaki. I think that Moeaki will either be cut or be available for a late round draft pick. So, if he’s healthy, I’m guessing/hoping Moeaki becomes a Cardinal.

  30. By Annette Richters on May 28, 2013 | Reply

    Two tight end sets are perfect for Mendenhall and our wide outs. Too many people to block and cover. With two tight ends and and our strengthened OLINE CENTER which brings our running game into a threat itself, I don’t see too many teams that we can’t beat. Misdirection is one of BA’s best attributes if you watch his Colts last year. He has more talent now than he did then, and he has Moore too. Watch us put up phenominal yards against some of the premier defenses in this league while our defense gets just as stingy as it was last year.

    SUPER BOWL NFC…….CARDINALS…… Yeh, I know, but they said it couldn’t be done when Kuirt was QB with Fitz, Q, and Breaston. We have three big corners just as good or better. Fitz, Flloyd, and Byrd. All big, all fast, all with good hands, all with blocking skills and are not afraid to hit a linebacker to spring another WR or TE or RB. Take ;your pick. Our TE’s will be a force to reckon with this year at both blocking and catching. Our O LIne is going to shine this year. SB here we come.

  31. By sbrown on May 29, 2013 | Reply

    garthshort –
    career stats on Moeaki, 6’3 252 pounds, drafted round 3 in 2012 from Iowa.
    2010 – 15 games, 47 receptions for 556 yards and 3 TD
    2011 – did not play, torn ACL in September, missed all season
    2010 – 15 games , 33 receptions for 453 yards and 1 TD

    Just don’t see Cards going after him, we have better TE’s on the roster.

  32. By John The Draft Guy on May 29, 2013 | Reply

    Cody Zarr,

    Got to agree with you.

    Antonio Gates cant block at all but everyone would line up to take him. Gonzo gets in the way of people but is not known for his blocking. Graham is an oversized slot WR and blocks like one. Bad blockers who every team wants.

    Why are the valuable? Because they create mismatches because of size and speed. Can you imagine a slot corner like Honey Badger on the 6’6″ Graham, or a LB like Dansby trying to match his foot speed. They make defenses change their scheme or personnel to favor other matchups.

    Can Housler do that? Time will tell. He has shown flashes where he can win in the seam. He can be a nightmare in crossing patterns if we had a QB to hit him. With Palmer, he will have every opportunity to show he belongs. I’m rooting for him. We will see.

  33. By sbrown on May 30, 2013 | Reply

    JTDG – I agree, Housler is the key to the Cardinal TE’s this season. with Palmer at Qb , Housler should get the ball delivered to him better than last season. Overall the TE’s should be better at receiving than last season. See my post above from the 25th, of who I think will make the final 53 man roster.

  34. By richard ullmann on Jun 3, 2013 | Reply

    D.C. Jefferson will be a great improverment to the cards. he can Block,Catch,and throw the rock.

  35. By CB on Jun 5, 2013 | Reply

    Well…..I believe the new coach is a “Strategist” to say the least and with “STRATEGY” in mind…..It only makes since to sign AUFFRAY. He can throw, run, block, and even punt. It’s a no brainer for the coach. He gets one of the best kept secrets in Auffray. Utility Utility Utility and special teams! Oh btw…he is FAST with great hands.

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