Thursday, June 9, 2011
Breaking down tight ends: Chicago
By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the tight ends of each NFC North team. Today: Chicago Bears.
Mike Martz doesn’t use the tight end a lot in his offense. Even though the Bears' wide receivers are not a stellar group and Jay Cutler has proved to have a strong liking for Greg Olsen near the goal line, Olsen still is well down the ladder in this passing game. Olsen, a finesse tight end all the way, could be a star receiving threat if Chicago were to trade him to a better fitting offensive scheme.
Tight ends Greg Olsen, left, and Kellen Davis could see their roles increase in 2011.
When I call Olsen a “finesse player” I mean that he isn’t a powerful or particularly willing inline blocker, doesn’t out-muscle coverage players for the ball when it is in the air and is not a forceful ball carrier after the reception. Olsen also gets manhandled when attempting to run block and can look uninterested in doing so. But he is an excellent athlete and has very good natural receiving skills. He has a long athletic body with the ability to pluck the ball away from his frame. Olsen is a smooth route-runner who can truly stretch a defense. He is excellent in motion or away from the formation. But the Bears' offensive system rarely asks him to use his talents as a pass-catcher. If the Bears improve their offensive line, Olsen’s role might increase, because he should be asked to block less often.
Brandon Manumaleuna is a king-sized tight end who you would think might serve as an extra offensive tackle. But like the Bears’ entire offensive line, Manumaleuna was in over his head blocking last year. As a pass-catcher, he offers very little.
Kellen Davis is an interesting player whose role could grow. Although he's not a quick-twitch athlete, Davis does move pretty well and has some power and excellent size. Considering Manumaleuna’s shortcomings last season, Davis could be in line to step up.
Desmond Clark is 34 years old and didn’t play a snap last season. He is an unrestricted free agent. He may or may not be back, but certainly will not be a top priority at this stage of his career.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL.