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Thursday, June 6, 2013
Jared Cook and the NFC West tight ends

By Mike Sando

Free-agent addition Jared Cook excites the St. Louis Rams.

"He can add a dimension to our offense we didn't have," coach Jeff Fisher told reporters Thursday.

And this, from deadpanning quarterback Sam Bradford: "He's good. I don't know if you guys noticed that. He's good."

We'll be watching NFC West tight ends closely in 2013.

Vernon Davis will presumably become a bigger part of the San Francisco 49ers' passing game, especially with Michael Crabtree recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon.

The Arizona Cardinals appear to lack the versatile tight ends coach Bruce Arians says he prefers, but Rob Housler provides a receiving threat with speed. Housler had more receptions last season than any tight end currently on an NFC West roster. However, the Cardinals were the only team in the NFL without a receiving touchdown from the position, something that should change with improved quarterback play.

The Rams, meanwhile, have found in Cook an unusually fast tight end to threaten defenses from the slot. Cook is primarily a receiver. Incumbent tight end Lance Kendricks, who is recovering from knee surgery, is better suited for some of the in-line duties associated with the position.

NFC West teams have added three tight ends through the draft this offseason.

The 49ers used a second-round choice for Vance McDonald. Seattle used a fifth-rounder for McDonald's teammate at Rice, Luke Willson. Arizona used a seventh-rounder for D.C. Jefferson.

Someone asked during the NFC West chat whether Seattle might need to address the position after losing incumbent No. 2 tight end Anthony McCoy to a torn Achilles' tendon. I think the team is interested in seeing what Willson can do, particularly as a receiver. Sean McGrath is also in the mix.

Adding a veteran as the clear No. 2 tight end doesn't seem to be a priority.

Davis remains the most athletically gifted tight end in the division, having covered 40 yards in under 4.4 seconds coming out of college. Housler and Cook were in the 4.5s, still blazing for a position that continues to evolve as teams look to create mismatches.