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Starting tight end for your Seahawk Nation is none other than Bennie Joppru! Yes, he is the lone TE signed for the 2007 season. Rest assured there will be some interesting decisions to be made by Holmgren and Ruskell during this offseason. Their philosophy in free agency always has included attaching a premium on re-signing their own.
At the top of the list, the team must decide whether they are going to re-sign Jerramy Stevens. The Jerramy Stevens era as Seahawk tight end should cease. My reasoning for severing ties to this TE may shock you. I have been a devout supporter for Jerramy Stevens and still am. I marvel at his athletic ability which enables him to breakdown linebackers and split safeties. However, we must make decisions not with our heart, but with our head.
The road map to securing wins has rested with the Hawks ability to maintain tempo and control time of possession. Run the ball effectively just like we had in 2005. To do so will require improved blocking. The loss of skilled blockers of Hutch, Hannam and Jurevicius impacted the run game. There is a need for a great blocking TE that can split out and “seal the end” and push LBs out of running lanes. When accomplished, the outcome of this is a rested defense for the 4th quarter.
Daniel Graham is the player I am spotlighting here. He takes pride in his blocking. He is a leader in the locker room, a self-less player. Graham is a proven winner, a crafty veteran, and is a consummate community man from the New England Patriots. He literally destroyed PHI with his blocking during NE Super Bowl win. Michael Felger, of the Boston Herald, reports Graham would prefer to be featured more as a receiver and not just as a blocking tight end. That would likely rule out pairing Stevens and Graham as teammates on the Hawks.
I’ve never bought into the hype that Stevens is un-fit for the Hawks. To me his character is un-questioned. Those demons are in the distant past. Yes, his drops were up this year. Lack of training camp, injuries to him and the whole offense for that matter, will mess up timing and contribute to drops. At 6-7 with his speed, he can get to errant balls better, whereas others without his speed and size, the outcome would result in an incompletion. Jerramy Stevens is more of a threat to disrupt the defensive game plans of the opposition. He is a prototype for the WCO. Few can fly higher than his tall frame for lob passes in the endzone. We need to trade some of that athletic ability for run blocking though.
Also, look at the big picture of TEs. They are like RBs in that they have a short shelf life. They peak quickly and decline rapidly. Battling DEs and LBs at full speed takes a toll on TEs. Often they receive punishing hits in the middle as they stretch out to carom in a pass. The majority of TEs with long tenured careers are the blocking guys who are basically pseudo offensive linemen.
Stevens is a year younger, has endured 2 injuries last summer and each led to surgery. Will he now have chronic knee problems? Graham has missed time as well having had shoulder surgery. Whoever becomes #1, should be saddled with a short 3 year contract front loaded with a signing bonus and back loaded with roster bonuses. Let future health dictate longevity. Stevens can and will obtain a lucrative contract in this market. The team wants him back. However, the fervor from hometown fans will inevitably drive him away. The TE position is integral to the success of the West Coast Offense. Graham offers a good mix of blocking and catching. He's our guy.
Graham hails from Colorado and is former teammates with Branch and Ashworth. Pair him up with another blocking TE that can catch such as Reggie Kelly or Will Heller if Kelly is un-available. Also, use a Day 1 draft pick on a young TE this year or next year to prepare for the future. Matt Spaeth makes for a nice candidate. He is 6-7 265 lbs and runs 4.85. The scouting report from NFL Draft Countdown says that he is a team leader, has great hands, is a superb blocker and is physical as he will deliver the blow. He is smart so he should be able to learn the WCO quickly.
Table data compiled from FootballOutsiders.com
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