Perhaps it is a sign that Ryan Tannehill is the real deal since it is the 13th season since the great number 13, Dan Marino, retired. Over that stretch Miami Dolphins fans started to forget what it was like to not be searching for a quarterback. Well, now that the future is looking bright for Mr. Tannehill (at least for now), the Dolphins can focus on another position that has eluded them during that stretch: tight end. Succeeding in adding talent at the tight end position could be critical in helping Tannehill become a true franchise quarterback.
The guys on the team right now are Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, and Michael Egnew. Fasano is the known quantity and has been the Dolphins starting tight end since he arrived in 2008. His blocking skills are solid and his hands are reliable. However, he is the epitome of mediocrity. He has never had a 40+ reception season and his career high for yards is only 528. So Fasano is an acceptable starter, but has never been elite and never will be.
Clay and Egnew have elite level potential, but neither one of them has shown any signs of realizing that potential. Egnew, a third round draft pick last April, drew the ire of coaches during training camp and has yet to earn the right to be on the field in a real game. Clay has made it to the field, however he has been unreliable. While Clay and Egnew are not being written off quite yet, tight end should be a top priority to upgrade for the next off-season.
Unfortunately, the draft class does not look particularly strong at tight end right now. No player has stood out as a likely first round pick. So it would mean looking at more guys like Clay and Egnew that have the talent but whether or not they will reach their potential is a significant question.
Free agency has one intriguing option. That would be Dustin Keller. Keller had the talent to make him a first round pick back in 2008. Keller has also shown improvement every season in his career (until he was setback by an injury this season). Most impressive is that he has managed that with Mark Sanchez playing quarterback. Oh and he is also a New York Jet.
I can’t even remember the last time the Dolphins stole a significant player in his prime away from a rival. The Jets are not in great shape with the salary cap and Darrelle Revis is trying to get a new deal that he will probably get sooner rather than later. Keller is also, unsurprisingly, not too thrilled with the quarterback situation in New York. So it is quite possible the Jets do not manage to retain him. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to fill a need and stick it to a hated rival?
It will be interesting to see how the Dolphins deal with the tight end position next off-season.