2014 Positional Breakdown: Tight Ends

Posted Jan 30, 2014

Three different playing styles made up a balanced position group.

The spotlight was on Miami’s young tight ends early in the preseason after veteran free agent Dustin Keller went down with a season-ending knee injury, and Charles Clay, Michael Egnew and rookie Dion Sims didn’t shy away from the attention. Each player made a significant contribution at one of the most demanding positions on the field.

Not only did the tight ends need to run sharp routes and win their match-ups with linebackers, safeties and sometimes cornerbacks down the field, but they also were relied upon to provide pass protection and open holes for the running backs. Clay, in his third season, emerged as the most well rounded of the bunch and even added a fourth dimension as a running back, scoring his first career rushing touchdown at Indianapolis and finishing with 15 yards on seven carries.

Egnew and Sims filled the void at fullback after Miami’s coaching staff elected to go without one on the roster and also gave second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill some big options in the two tight end sets. They were sure-handed on short yardage situations and also progressed down the seam, turning a position that might have been seen as a weakness at the start of the season into a strength.


• Charles Clay (6-3, 250) — His first two seasons in a Dolphins uniform were mixed with highlight-reel moments and some plays that left something to be desired, but Clay took full advantage of his opportunity to be a full-time starter in 2013. His 69 receptions for 759 yards were both the second highest totals by a tight end in franchise history and his six touchdown catches were tied for third, but his signature catch-and-run plays at Pittsburgh, against San Diego and against New England separated him from the pack. He quickly became one of Tannehill’s favorite targets and provides hope for the future at the position.

• Michael Egnew (6-5, 255) — Egnew saw the light bulb come on for him in his second season after a frustrating rookie campaign and was highly effective as a lead blocker lining up in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage with his imposing 6-foot-5, 255-pound frame. He also caught seven passes for 69 yards and kept some scoring drives alive with crucial third-down receptions.

• Dion Sims (6-4, 262) — The fourth-round draft pick out of Michigan State made an early impact by making a one-handed catch for the game-winning touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in Miami’s home opener at Sun Life Stadium. It was his first NFL catch and first NFL touchdown and he went on to catch a total of six passes for 32 yards in five starts over 15 games while also developing as a blocking tight end.

Kyle Miller was the only true tight end kept on the practice squad and provided legitimate depth at the position at 6-5, 262, especially with his blocking. Georgia State rookie Emmanuel Ogbuehi is also listed as a fullback so he’d be used more as a hybrid.
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