More Tight End Talk

The Colts continue to visit with tight ends at the Senior Bowl, talking briefly with another pair of prospects late in the week.

After interviewing Missouri TE Martin Rucker on Thursday, the Colts also had brief conversations with another pair of tight ends, Tennessee's Brad Cottam and Kentucky's Jacob Tamme.

Both of the SEC players are alluring to the Colts, a team with three tight ends who will become free agents on Feb. 1. Although Dallas Clark will likely be re-signed, decisions remain regarding restricted free agents Ben Utecht and Bryan Fletcher.

Cottam and Tamme are contrasting prospects: one is highly-regarded because of his size and potential, despite having no impressive statistics to speak of; the other is an average-sized player with solid numbers to back up his play.

The Goliath of the duo is Cottam, who stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds. Imagine a 6 feet, 5 inch Peyton Manning looking for a player of Cottam's size around the goal line or over the middle on third down, or blocking at the end of the line?


Brad Cottam
AP Photo/Winston Luzier

Clearly, Cottam's size is what has scouts so intrigued, because his statistics from three injury-plagued seasons with the Volunteers aren't much to speak of. His best season came in 2006, when Cottam played in nine games and had 14 receptions for 182 yards.

After a preseason wrist injury, Cottam petitioned the NCAA for a a sixth season of eligibility. Already a fifth-year senior, Cottam had played in only 16 career games because of various injuries. But his appeal was denied by the NCAA and Cottam was forced to come back late in the season.

Cottam played in the Vols' last three games in 2007. He recorded two catches for 66 yards in a 52-50 win over Kentucky, and had another pair of catches in a 21-14 loss to LSU. He did finish his career on an extremely high note: his 31-yard touchdown catch in the Outback Bowl — the only touchdown of his collegiate career, and Cottam's only catch of the game — turned out to be the game-winner in a 21-17 win over Wisconsin.

Cottam has shown lots of potential and his size is a plus. But he hasn't shown the ability to make plays — or even stay in the lineup — consistently, so it's difficult to imagine him in the sophisticated Colts' offense. Of course, the possibility exists that the Colts want a tight end that's essentially a glorified tackle to complement Clark, who is a dominating receiver at the position. If that's the case, and Cottam is able to put his injury trouble behind him, he could be just the man the Colts are looking for.

Scout.com ranks Cottam as the fifth-best tight end prospect in the draft and the 104-best prospect overall, which translates into the late third or fourth round, and projects his 40-yard dash time at 4.70, which is good speed for a man of his size. But given his injury history and lack of statistics, he'll need to have an impressive lead-up to the draft if he wants to go higher than that.


Jacob Tamme
AP Photo/Ed Reinke

Tamme, meanwhile, is a much smaller, but more productive, player. At 6 feet, 3 1/2 inches, 236 pounds, Tamme isn't the target Cottam is, but has proven his worth on the field with the Wildcats.

All four of Tamme's years at Kentucky were better than any of Cottam's, and he increased his reception and yardage numbers in each of his four years. He was named first-team All-SEC as a junior and a senior, and in 2007 had 56 receptions for 619 yards and six touchdowns. Off the field, he won the Bobby Bowden Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Scout.com has Tamme ranked as the seventh-best tight end in the draft and the 119th overall prospect, so his projection in the draft is quite similar to Cottam's. Clearly, he's shown skills as a receiver, but his 40-yard dash time is a lackluster 4.92. He'll have to improve on that during his Pro Day and at the NFL Combine to show he can play as a receiving tight end in the NFL.

It appears that the Colts will likely have at least one tight end roster spot to fill going into next season. If they choose to do it through the draft, they'll have to decide what they want from a tight end: one that will be similar in style to Dallas Clark, or a bigger tight end to help in the running game.

Rucker, Cottam and Tamme are all possibilities for the Colts to consider, and they'll also have to decide when in the draft they want to take a tight end and how to maximize that pick's value.


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