Veteran Desmond Clark has been one of the more underrated tight ends in the league for a few years now, and he was able to hold on to his starting job with 41 catches for 367 yards in addition to solid blocking in the running game. But it's up-and-coming youngster Greg Olsen who is the future at this position in the Windy City, as the former first-round draft pick finished second on the team with 54 receptions for 574 yards and led the Bears with five touchdowns through the air. Since the receivers played poorly for the majority of the season, Clark and Olsen were on the field at the same time quite often and did as much damage lining up out wide as they did with a hand on the ground.
Olsen still has a long way to go as a blocker and won't become a complete tight end until he makes a serious commitment to get stronger, although he's carved out a nice niche for himself as a hybrid offensive weapon.
Inside the Numbers
If the Bears had any desire to move the older, slower Clark out of the starting lineup in favor of the younger, faster Olsen, then they wouldn't have rewarded Clark with a two-year contract extension this past offseason. Look for the versatile Olsen to continue his part-tight end, part-receiver, part-fullback duties in 2009, and he could own the middle of the field if general manager Jerry Angelo finds a couple of wide receivers that can command attention from enemy safeties. Davis might be the wild card in all this, as the 6-7, 262-pounder has the physical tools to succeed but needs to shake his reputation as a not-so-hard worker.
There will be some strong tight ends available on the free-agent market, most notably L.J. Smith of the Eagles and Bo Scaife of the Titans, but the Bears would be wise to spend their money elsewhere, and they have higher priorities in the NFL Draft even if a good-looking prospect falls between the cracks on Day 2.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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