As of last year, the Saints have put themselves into the "team with the best tight end" argument. Jimmy Graham exploded onto the scene, being the first tight end to break Kellen Winslow, Sr's record of most yards by a tight end in a season. Graham was eventually passed by Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, the other team in the argument.
As of now, there are six tight ends on the active roster. Graham is obviously a given to make the team, but from there anything can happen. In the past, the Saints have brought either three or four tight ends into the season depending on the number of fullbacks they keep. I predict they will keep three this year to free up that extra man at fullback. Therefore, five guys will be battling it out for the last two spots at tight end.
Make the jump to see my opinion on which tight ends make the final roster. After you finish, stop by the comment section to voice your thoughts.
Jimmy Graham, David Thomas
Jimmy has established himself as the starting tight end with his magnificent performance last year. The 6'7" 265 lbs. monster had 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. The scary thing is, that was only his second season in the NFL and third season of football period. He has barely scratched the surface of his talent level. Graham was also able to stay healthy and play in every game.
David Thomas is a very versatile player for the Saints that would love to stick around. He is able to play the fullback and H-back positions to go along with his traditional spot at tight end. Last season , Thomas played in only five games before having his season cut short due to a concussion. Every other year with the Saints though, he has provided good depth and decent contribution to the team. Look for him to be the true back up.
Michael Higgins is a relative unknown guy for the Saints. This year I expect him to change that and make the final roster. Last season was his first with the Saints and he only played in two games, totaling one reception for four yards. So far though, he has had a promising camp. In the preseason games, he leads the tight ends in receiving with four catches for 46 yards. Although, it has been said that his downside is his blocking. If he wants to see more of the field, he will need to improve in that area.
On the Bubble
Daniel Graham seems to be the only guy that could push Higgins for a roster spot this year. The 33 year old veteran has spent time with the Patriots, Broncos, and Titans in his 10 year career. It might be a concern that he has only broken 400 yards in a season once, but Graham has been primarily a "blocking specialist." If the Saints feel they need to shore up their blocking at the position, then Graham might get the nod. But otherwise, he will be cut.
Derek Schouman, Jake Byrne
In Derek Schouman's relatively young career, he has not made a big impact. He was drafted out of the seventh round to the Bills in 2007 and has yet to gain over 200 yards in a season. Last season with the Rams, he played in three games and didn't record any offensive stats. Yikes! My guess is that the Saints brought him in to be a camp body and he will be cut shortly.
Jake Byrne came to the Saints as an undrafted, rookie free agent this year. While at the University of Wisconsin, Byrne's tenure was nothing more than abysmal. His "career year" was gaining 43 yards and a touchdown off of five catches during his junior season. In his senior year, he had one catch for 14 yards. Im not trying to be disrespectful towards the guy, but he does not belong in the NFL. Byrne will be lucky if he makes the practice squad.