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Denver Broncos Positional Review: Tight Ends

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Denver Broncos offseason positional review discussing what the team has based off of 2016 production of players on the team. We'll review stats, eye-test opinion, contract situation, and depth on the Denver Bronco team as we prepare for the start of free agency and the NFL draft.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

I'm breaking down our team to look at what we have in the cupboard for this offseason. In doing so, I've gathered data from nflgsis.com to give us some stats to look at as we evaluate what our players did in the 2016 regular season. Also, overthecap.com contract info will be embedded when available. I'll add to that a synopsis of each player including their contract situation. Hopefully this helps Broncos Country here at MHR be better educated on the state of the team, it’s strengths and weaknesses, and what positions we’ll likely target in free agency and the draft.

In case you missed any of the earlier parts of this series: Special Teams, Safeties, Cornerbacks, Outside Linebackers, Inside Linebackers, Offensive Line.

This is such a hard group to really pin down from 2016. I saw a lot of flashes of good play from several tight ends we used. That being said, no one of them really stepped up and became a play-maker that most NFL teams have. It was absolutely mind boggling to me that the Denver Broncos had a Kubiak offense and used the tight ends in the middle of the field so little.

Stats

Player No Yds Avg Long TD Snap %
Player No Yds Avg Long TD Snap %
Virgil Green 22 237 10.8 31 1 45.7%
A.J. Derby 16 160 10 17 0 17.7%
Jeff Heuerman 9 141 15.7 31 0 21.5%
Henry Krieger-Coble 1 13 13 13 0 1.7%
Tight End Stats nflgsis.com, footballoutsiders.com

Players

Virgil Green

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Virgil Green is a very good NFL tight end. He’s a huge asset as a run blocker where he excels. His receiving game is good enough as a tight end and while many of us hoped he would develop into an explosive receiving option, that just hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to at this point in his career.

That being said, I’m a big fan of having a tight end like Green. He’s the kind of guy that makes your run game get big time plays on the outside while also helping move the chains on 3rd down. He won’t take the top off of a defense, but the guy runs really sharp routes and has the kind of soft hands you want in a TE.

A.J. Derby

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

I really liked this acquisition by Denver in 2016. Derby flashed the kind of receiving talent in his few opportunities to look like a guy that can develop into a real weapon in the passing game. With McCoy running the offense, he’ll have a chance to shine for sure. For a player with short arms, he catches very well and I’m excited to see what he brings to the table in 2017.

Jeff Heuerman

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Here’s another tight end that showed flashes here and there in the passing game. My problem is that we hear a lot of talk about him every year in TC, yet he can’t stay on the field with injury problems and he has yet to translate his game to the field and really take over. I honestly think the injury issues he’s had are the biggest worry for him in 2017.

Henry Krieger-Coble

Denver Broncos v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Contract Info

Henry Krieger-Coble rarely saw the field in 2016 and when he did, there wasn’t a lot of flash to his game in either phase of the offense. He’s a very cheap option for us to keep through training camp and see if he can take a step forward in his game for 2017.

Position Overview

I like the potential of Derby as a playmaker. Outside of him, I see a bunch of guys that lack in some way (not fast enough, injury bug, not strong enough, etc). With so many quality tight ends in this year’s draft, I find it pretty likely that we look for a guy there with one of our 10 picks in 2017.

Outside of wanting a young stud from the draft, I’m not terribly concerned with this group though. I think more of our problems last year came from either the offensive scheme not utilizing the middle of the field or QBs who wouldn’t throw to those areas. I think Mike McCoy is going to solve this issue for us by both using a scheme that looks at the tight ends more as a weapon and coaches up his QBs on how to use them to break the backs of teams that want to keep running zone concepts on us.

What about the rest of you out there in Broncos Country? Do we need a free agent? If so, which one? Do you like one of the younger options I’m kind of writing off? Sound off in the comments and tell me what you think.