Biggs: "Is pass-catching tight end a priority for Bears?"
I keep hoping we solve this one with a FA pick. It's a position that's not too expensive to buy in FA. Then we could have a guy who could help us immediately.
LINK to the article Is pass-catching tight end a priority for Bears? Notre Dame's Eifert best available, but Trestman & Co. may not want to spend early pick on tight end http://www.trbimg.com/img-512aa79a/t...01/580/580x363 Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert may be the first tight end chosen in the draft. (Scott Strazzante /Tribune photo / January 7, 2013)
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter
5:54 p.m. CST, February 24, 2013 INDIANAPOLIS — Jay Cutler has been straightforward about the impact a pass-catching tight end can have in the offense, and perhaps it is a priority again with Bears tight ends coach Andy Bischoff earlier this month saying, "We need a tight end that can create stress in the middle of the field or wherever we place him."
Bears coach Marc Trestman was more cryptic when asked about a position that has produced little for the club the last few seasons. The tight end is virtually nonexistent in the CFL, but Trestman has an appreciation for the position and how it has evolved since he was last in the NFL in 2004.
"We've probably seen bigger guys and stronger guys in terms of their height and the things they do," Trestman said at the NFL scouting combine. "I go back to when I got in the league, there was Brent Jones at San Francisco, when I was at Oakland there were two or three tight ends we moved them around like you see teams doing today."
The top draft prospect is Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert and he only helped his stock with a strong showing. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, posted a 351/2-inch vertical jump and did 22 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds. There is a good chance Eifert will be available when the Bears select 20th in the first round. What will be available when they select 50th overall in the second round is less clear. Stanford's Zach Ertz could be off the board by then. Ertz, who made 69 receptions for 898 yards last season, ran 4.76 seconds in the 40, had a 301/2-inch vertical and 24 reps.
One NFC tight ends coach put Eifert clearly at the head of the class, saying, "He's the guy that can go up in a crowd and get the ball. He makes the tough plays."
There will be options later on. San Diego State's Gavin Escobar ran a disappointing 4.84 in the 40, but one national scout said "that's not the speed he plays at. It will concern some teams, but not me." Rice's Vance McDonald tested well at 4.69 in the 40 with a 331/2-inch vertical and 31 reps. Arkansas' Chris Gragg was at 4.50 in the 40, but he and Maryland's Matt Furstenburg, who also tested well, are more in the physical mold of Evan Rodriguez, still with the Bears.
Bears tight ends have been the least productive in the NFL the last two seasons, producing only 29 receptions in 2012 and 25 in 2011. The club signed Kellen Davis to a two-year $6 million contract last year and drafted Rodriguez in the fourth round. Davis flopped and Rodriguez was moved to fullback, but indications are he could return to tight end in a complementary role.
In eight drafts since Trestman was last in the NFL, seven tight ends have been chosen in the first round, including Greg Olsen 31st overall by the Bears in 2007. There were no tight ends selected in Round 1 in the last two years. Plenty of finds have come in the second round — Rob Gronkowski, Kyle Rudolph and Fred Davis — and third round — Jimmy Graham, Jared Cook and Jermichael Finley.
"I'm lucky to be coming in at a time where the type of tight end that I am is being used quite a bit," Eifert said. "In the passing game but also a guy that can stay in the game on every down and can also block. Create mismatch problems in the passing game."
Emery has put a premium on acquiring playmakers, but it is unknown how the need for tight end will stack up versus the need to revamp the offensive line, moves that can be made in free agency and the draft alike.
"We want to put players in positions where they can create some matchups opportunities," Trestman said. "We can do that with a number of different personnel groupings, and tight end groupings are certainly one of them, but they're not a panacea for the offense, they don't have to be. But to have those body types certainly helps offenses."