The Los Angeles Rams head into training camp this season with a lot of uncertainty as to who will carry the load at the tight end position. The team has two players competing for the top spot at the position, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. Higbee has one more season of NFL experience than Everett, entering his third season this year. He carried most of the load for the Rams at tight end last season as Everett struggled to make the transition from college to the NFL (as most tight ends do their rookie year).
However, this season is a whole new ball game and Everett should have the playbook down pat. So, now it will come down to which of the two players is able to produce more on the field throughout training camp and the preseason. Not to mention, Temarrick Hemingway is returning this season after being sidelined by an injury all of last year.
Tight end Tyler Higbee enters his third season in the NFL. In his first season under Sean McVay and his second in the league, Higbee took a big step forward. After a rookie season where he was almost nonexistent, Higbee carried the Rams tight end room last season and performed well doing it.
However, Higbee’s game was backwards in a lot of ways last season. He was drafted out of college as a dominant receiving tight end, a “matchup nightmare” kind of player. He was even lovingly dubbed “Baby Gronk” by teammate Todd Gurley early in his NFL career. But, things did not pan out for Higbee in the passing game. In 16 games the tight end totaled under 300 yards receiving, fairly insignificant numbers.
On the other hand, Higbee blocked surprisingly well during the team’s 2017 campaign. For a player who drafted along with Hemingway, (with the expectation that Hemingway would be his blocking cohort) Higbee performed admirably in his absence. Blocking especially well around the edge, Higbee went a long way in helping Gurley get to the outside.
Tight end Gerald Everett is set to enter his second season in the NFL. After a rookie season where he struggled to adjust to the pro game and thus struggled to find playing time, Everett will be looking to bounce back in a big way. Despite his struggles throughout his rookie year, he still flashed very raw potential.
As a matter of fact, Everett is shaping up to be the matchup nightmare that Higbee is not panning out to be. His large, athletic frame and impressive speed truly make him a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. I would not be surprised at all to see the Rams draw up a lot of packages specifically for Everett this season, specifically in the redzone. If McVay is able to get Everett isolated, there are few players on most teams who can guard a player of his size one-on-one.
Unfortunately, Everett’s blocking is just not up to par. If he hopes to take over the lions share of the Rams reps at tight end, he has a long way to go in that aspect. However, this is certainly not impossible. In fact, Everett’s situations is very similar to Higbee’s just a year ago.
So, who will be the starter for the Rams at tight end? It truly is tough to say, there are so many unknowns. Has Everett developed his blocking ability? Has he solidified his knowledge of the playbook? Can Higbee expand his receiving ability to be able to compete with Everett’s?
At the end of the day, it will likely be a “tight end by committee” system for the Rams. There may not even be a clear starter each week, it may come down to what play the Rams plan to run at the beginning of each game. If Everett can learn from Higbee and vice verse, the Rams will have a dangerous duo on their hands.
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