Saturday, June 4, 2011

Meet Gabbert's New Best Friends

It has been said that a tight end can be a quarterback's best friend. Why is that? A tight end may not be as dynamic as a wide receiver or running back, yet are usually the one the quarterback dumps the ball to when in trouble.

According to Rams General Manager Billy Devaney, "The tight end is a real nice safety valve for the quarterback to have. If you've got to spit the ball out fast it's a comfort knowing you've got a sure handed tight end as a receiver even if he's not running down the middle of the field. If you have someone like that who knows how to read blitzes and knows how to get open, that becomes a quarterbacks best friend."

Luckily for Blaine Gabbert, if he gets the nod to start, the Jacksonville Jaguars have an strong, experienced tight end corp. General Manager Gene Smith believes they are a winning group. "Winning at tight end in a very real sense is about versatility, depth, improvement and experience."

One of the Jaguars most durable and reliable leaders is Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis. Known as one of the NFL's better blocking tight ends, he emerged as a receiver last season racking up 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a force to be reckoned with, a reality not lost on Gabbert.

In an interview following the draft Gabbert had this to say about Lewis, "He's a great player, having a big athletic tight end like that helps you out. We had a great tight end in Missouri as well and having a guy like that can get a mismatch on a linebacker and stretch the middle of the field puts stress on the defense. Anytime you have a guy like that, like Marcedes. that's definitely a comfort for the quarterback."

Smith also had high praise for No. 2 tight end Zach Miller. "Miller has the potential to continue to develop and in a more pass oriented offense could put up numbers on the scale of some of the NFL's better receiving tight ends."

That bold statement potentially puts Miller in the company of exceptional pass-catching tight ends such as Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark and the man known every year in my fantasy league as Capt. Witten (of course I'm talking about the Cowboy's Jason Witten).

Rounding out the tight end trio is blocking tight end Zach Potter. As defenses continue to run creative blitzing schemes having solid tight ends handling the pressure is important. Smith is confident the tight end position is one of his teams most reliable areas.

In Jacksonville there will be a close watch on the competition between David Garrard and Gabbert. Regardless of who wins, there is a strong tight end corp ready for either quarterback to rely on.

Follow me on Twitter: @Courtney_Sweet

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