Insiders Analysis: Tight Ends

PI takes a look at the roster and breaks down each player on a unit-by-unit basis. The tight end position is expected to be a position of strength in 2005 with the return of a healthy Ben Watson to the lineup. Christian Fauria and Dan Graham will see significant playing time while Jed Weaver is taking advantage of the extra feedback given to him by position coach Pete Mangurian.

PHOTO: Patriots' tight end Jed Weaver gets personal attention from position coach Pete Mangurian during an afternoon practice session at training camp in Foxboro. Weaver was the only tight end dressed for the session. Fellow tight ends Daniel Graham, Ben Watson, Christian Fauria and Joel Jacobs were held out of practice for unspecified reasons. (PatriotsInsiders Photo)

Insiders Analysis: Tight Ends

Daniel Graham ­ 6’3”, 257 Lbs., 4th Year, Colorado
The Pats’ 1st round pick in 2002 was a red zone favorite of Tom Brady’s last season, grabbing 7 touchdown receptions, a career high. He is a tenacious blocker, and in some games, his offensive prowess is sacrificed due to his blocking ability, as he is kept in to help against premier defensive ends like Dwight Freeney and Jevon Kearse. He’s got excellent hands and great speed for a player his size, which makes him a mismatch for linebackers and defensive backs. He could form a deadly tandem with Christian Fauria and a healthy Ben Watson this year, especially in tight formations in which they could all be in the offense at once.

Christian Fauria ­ 6’4”, 250 Lbs., 11th Year, Colorado
Another underrated red zone threat is Fauria, who in the last 3 years has hauled in 11 of his 18 career TD’s. As good as he is at looking the ball in, he usually doesn’t go very far after the reception, and is mostly used as a short-yardage possession option. Fauria is a decent run blocker, and is strong enough to muscle around defensive ends on run plays going off his backside. His numbers may go down this year if Ben Watson stays healthy.

Benjamin Watson ­ 6’3”, 253 Lbs., 2nd Year, Georgia
Watson, who played only in the season opener last year due to a knee injury, is a physical specimen. He has freakish speed (4.5 40-yard dash time) for a player his size, excellent hands, and is a great route runner. This season he could be used out of the backfield as an H-back type, split out off the line as a wideout, or used off the line as a traditional tight end. He will create match up problems all over the defense. Watson is probably the last thing opposing defenses need when dealing with Tom Brady who loves to spread the ball around to 8 or 9 different receivers a game.

Jed Weaver ­ 6’4”, 258 Lbs., 7th Year, Oregon
Weaver was picked up off the waiver wire last season to add depth to a unit that had lost Ben Watson for the season, and for insurance for Daniel Graham’s nagging injuries. He had 8 catches last season, 4 of which came in mop-up duty vs. San Francisco in Week 17. He is not great as a receiving threat, but is a hard-nosed blocker who can move the pile. He fits the Patriots style philosophically, however it will be tough for him to make the squad as long as Fauria is in the mix and Watson stays on the field.

Joel Jacobs ­ 6’3”, 250 Lbs., 2nd Year, Nebraska-Kerney
Jacobs was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent August 17th, 2004. Was released by the team prior to the 2004 regular season and re-signed during the offseason, then allocated to NFL Europe for 2005. Jacobs hasn't been able to crack the roster in either New England or another city, yet the team continues to demonstrate interest in his future potential. He has survived training camp in 2005 by showing improvement in several key areas including his technique. Jacobs may end up on the practice squad for the second straight year.

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