We continue our look at the recent article from CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan asking what it means to have depth in the NFL. Kirwan asks 13 different questions about each NFL franchise, looking at key positions on the field and who would fill in if needed. Kirwan conclulded two teams, defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals, best fit the idea of "depth" on a roster.
He then listed five teams that could be considered "honorable mention" clubs: the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and a "tossup" between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Kirwan's explanation of the Dolphins, and the other four teams, making the honorable mention list reads, "they don't satisfy all the categories but they did better than most teams hitting on at least nine of the 13."
The depth questions start with an entry crtieria question, one that if you answer no, you do not move on to the rest of the fields and simply do not have depth. Since the Dolphins met the entry criteria for the depth discussion by having a backup quarterback that "can go at least 2-2 in a four-game stretch" with Matt Moore, we have been breaking down the rest of the questions Kirwan poses. The fifth area for consideration is:
Is there a good second tight end on the roster?
This is one of the areas where Miami may not meet the "depth" definition. Behind starting tight end Charles Clay, the Dolphins have Michael Egnew, entering his third year, Dion Sims and Kyle Miller, both entering their second years, and rookies Arthur Lynch and Harold Hoskins. There is no one on the roster with experince, other than Clay, and he's only entering his fourt season.
Clay had a breakout year in 2013, recording 69 receptions for 759 yards with six touchdowns. He added a seventh touchdown on one of his seven carries for 15 yards, lining up as a fullback at times. The performance landed Clay on the NFL Top 100 Players list for the first time in his career, coming in at number 89.
Egnew has been a frustration, both for the fans and the coaches, since being selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was barely active his rookie year, though he did make some nice plays last year. This season, early reports indicate he is playing an H-back style of role, as well as lining up split out wide at times. With the introduction of Bill Lazor's offensive system to the Dolphins, moving Egnew away from a traditional, in-line blocking style tight end to more of a receiving threat could be the benefit needed to make him the "good second tight end" for Miami this year.
Sims was drafted last year, and was immediately projected to be the "blocking" tight end for the team. He saw limited time on the playing field, like nearly every other rookie for Miami last year, but proved to be a servicable tight end at the least for the team. He recorded six receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown in 2013.
Miller has primarily been a practice squad player for the Dolphins since arriving during the season in 2012. He appeared in one game that year for the Indianapolis Colts, but has simply been a development project for Miami. He, along with Lynch, drafted in the fifth round this year, and Hoskins, an undrafted free agent, all will be looking to prove they can be productive at the NFL level, but have not yet done anything to quantify themslves as a "good second tight end."
Kirwan explained that the Dolphins hit on "at least" nine of the categories in his exploration of depth in the NFL. At this point, it looks like one of those four misses is the second tight end. Hopefully that miss is only on paper in June, and come September, one of the young players is able to step up and become that backup tight end.