I thought it was time to have another look at a member of the Bears roster that can sometimes go unnoticed. With all the talk being about the Bears wide receivers, let's take the opportunity to examine their current number one tight end, Kellen Davis.
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft, Davis played his college football at Michigan State. As a senior he was an All Big-10 honourable mention, and not only contributed on the offensive side of the ball, he also played on defense and special teams.
Davis is a large tight end, clocking in at 6'7 and 267 lbs. It would be fair to say that he has never really developed as much as the Bears would have hoped for. I think more was expected of him coming out of college. None the less, he is pretty athletic for his size and possesses good strength. He doesn't have the speed to easily get open, but he is a good route runner, and has decent hands.
Once drafted by the Bears in 2007, Greg Olsen assumed the role of number one tight end, and Davis's starts became limited. It wasn't until Olsen was traded to the Carolina Panthers in 2011, that Davis was given the starting role.
Last season he caught 18 passes for 206 yards, and managed to lead the team with five receiving touchdowns. Let's hope that this year sees a wide receiver setting the standard in terms of touchdown receptions.
I don't think it's unkind to say that Davis hasn't been as productive as he and the coaches would have liked. Could this be down to former offensive coordinator Mike Martz not utilizing him to his full potential? Will we see the Bear's tight end featured more prominently now that Mike Tice is running the offense?
Well, head coach Lovie Smith definitely feels strongly about Kellen Davis. He said:
"I would say that all eight years I've been here the tight end needs to be a big part of what we do. We plan on doing that. I think if you want to feature Kellen Davis, you can do that. [He has] great size, [is] a great in-line blocker, [who] is skilled enough of an athlete to be able to move outside and do some things. I really like him."
The tight end position has evolved over the last few years. Players such as Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have really set the bar as far as being receiving threats. They clearly demonstrate that today's tight end needs to possess the athleticism of a a wide out, and the strength of a lineman. Having an elite tight end on your roster can be the difference between being a good team and a great team.
The Bears looked to strengthen that position with the drafting of Evan Rodriguez in this years draft. The tight end out of Temple may not have the size of Davis, but was his team's top receiver in 2011 with 35 catches for 479 yards. It is not yet clear what position Rodriguez will play, as he has experience as a fullback, so may look to support or supplant current Bears FB Tyler Klutts.
So what are your thoughts on Kellen Davis. Does he have the ability to become more than just an occasional target, or have we already seen the best of him?