Imagine the Cardinals with elite tight end
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The more I watch the Cardinals, the more I wonder whether they'll draft a tight end in the first few rounds of the next draft.
Leonard Pope, Ben Patrick, Stephen Spach and Jerame Tuman each offer one or more skills the Cardinals find valuable. Finding one well-rounded tight end might make this offense even more effective, particularly in opening up running lanes. Another part of me thinks the Cardinals' style of offense simply doesn't lend itself to becoming a strong running team.
The Cardinals never thought they would be designing pass plays for Spach this season. They did so against the Rams. Overall, Arizona used one or more tight ends for about 70 percent of the snaps against the Rams, a high figure for a team that regularly uses four-receiver packages.
The Cardinals averaged 11.7 yards per pass attempt with one back, three receivers and a tight end. This was their preferred grouping on second down. Warner completed 7 of 7 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown from this group on second down alone. This included passes of 8 and 7 yards for Spach. Arizona gained 3 yards in three carries from this group (also on second down). Imagine if the Cardinals added a top-flight tight end.
Overall, the Cardinals would be more adaptable, in my view, if they could move the ball effectively by ground and air without using three- and four-receiver groupings so frequently. They averaged 6.0 yards per carry against the Rams on eight rushes with two backs, two receivers and a tight end. Four pass plays from this group produced one completion for zero yards. Arizona has previously put up good passing numbers from this group, albeit with a very small sample size. Warner seems most comfortable spreading the field.Note: Download the Cardinals' full personnel report for Week 13 right here.