Cardinals Seek Another Tight End

With Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick already on the roster, the Cardinals appear all set at the tight end position. So why were they eye-balling a tight end prospect at the Senior Bowl? It's because Pope averages less than two receptions per game and Patrick lacks the ability to be a difference-maker.

The Cardinals received only modest production from their tight ends last season. With one of the best receiving corps in the league, it was hoped that Leonard Pope would contribute more than 23 catches and 238 yards in his 13 starts.

While Pope's five touchdown receptions did soften the blow, Ken Whisnehunt expected more from the 6'8", 258-pound tight end. Rookies Ben Patrick and Troy Bienemann played sparingly when Pope went down with an ankle injury.

It would behoove the team to bring in another big body to compete at the position this summer, and the Cardinals may have found their man in Brad Cottam.

Cottam (6'8", 258 pounds) is a big-bodied player from the University of Tennessee with a tremendous upside. His best season came in 2006, when he caught 14 passes for 182 yards. He appeared primed to demolish those numbers as a senior, but played in only three games due to a wrist injury.

Despite the truncated season, he managed to pull in five balls for 125 yards and one touchdown.

"The thing with me is just versatility," Cottam said. "I think I am able to run the routes and, being a big guy, I'm able to stay in and block and I think that's what you look for in a tight end."

Cottam is a three-time academic All-SEC honoree and earned his undergrad degree in business studies. This could play heavily into how high he goes in this year's draft, as teams look at all aspects of the prospects they scout.

Showing he can produce on the field, as well as in the classroom, will help Cottam's stock come April. He started on that quest during Senior Bowl week, where he used his high football IQ to quickly pick up a new offense .

"I feel like I'm doing pretty good," said Cottam from Mobile, Ala. "The first day was just getting everything mentally and getting the offense down. (The practices) are short, so you have to show what you can do. So far, they've gone good and it feels good to be out with a lot of the top seniors in the country and compete against them."

The Cardinals could use a player of Cottam's talent to go with their current tight ends. Despite injury concerns regarding Cottam, the Cardinals might have to consider him if he is still on the board in the draft's later rounds.

"I understand how much money a team is going to invest in you and they want to look into all of that," said Cottam of his injury-riddled past, which includes more than a half-dozen injuries.

"I have had injuries, but (last year) was the first season that I've missed any games."

The Tennessee product believes that his injury woes are behind him. It remains to be seen if the Cardinals share the sentiment.

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