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Are Colts’ Tight Ends the Position to Watch in 2018?

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Keeping it short and sweet, there aren’t currently a lot of positions on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster that scare teams as they head into the 2018 season. Andrew Luck makes everyone on the offense better, but we’ve already discussed the lack of experience in the receiver corps and there are more questions than answers in the team’s backfield as well.

It’s pretty widely accepted that the offensive line has improved before they even step on the field, but what does Frank Reich have at his disposal that can keep opposing defenses on their heels? Yes, Nyheim Hines appears to be an exciting weapon-in-the-making who can complement Marlon Mack, and that’s important. Additionally, Deon Cain and Reece Fountain are interesting pieces that could see the field quite a bit as rookies.

But, all of these guys — including Mack — could have widely varying roads to success that nobody can predict at the moment.

There is, however, another unit that has some solid experience and is a fairly well-rounded group that offers a little bit of everything that nobody seems to be talking about. The tight end room might just be the collection of players that will allow Reich to display his creativity right out of the gate.

We know that Jack Doyle can be either a designated blocker or be an effective pass-catcher, and is one of the most reliable players on the roster — not to mention a personal favorite of Luck. Though Erik Swoope missed out on the 2017 season, there were some glimpses of his abilities flowing to the surface as the 2016 season came to an end.

Swoope has the frame, and work ethic to become a solid blocker, and was actually improving in that regard before being forced to sit out last year. His ability to stretch the field as tight end could have Reich watching him very closely as this group comes together over the summer.

It almost feels as if Eric Ebron has been forgotten at this point. He also adds a ton of speed and athletic ability to the position, and has the makings of a heavy target while being split out wide along with several personnel groupings.

Add in there Darrell Daniels, who got a healthy dose of snaps as a rookie last year, and a big mobile target like Ross Travis and you’ve got something brewing with the Colts tight ends this year.

Not only could the camp competition be a blast to watch this summer, but thinking about how Reich could utilize each of their skill sets leaves my mind very curious. The Philadelphia Eagles were a unique offense in 2017 as they were able to get 3 tight ends on the field at the same time, which is a difficult package for defenses to deal with especially if they’re caught off guard.

Philly used multiple tight end sets nearly 31% of their offensive snaps in 2017, and with the ability to create coverage mismatches as well as adding Doyle’s versatility in both aspects could prove to be a real wild card for the Colts offense.

Even Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has confessed that the two most difficult personnel groupings to defend are 13, and 22 which would suggest that Reich should be well aware of the possibilities this presents with the Colts group.

One of the most critical points of this unit’s success will be whether or not someone in addition to Doyle can step up and become a true dual threat as an in-line blocker and a YAC artist. Going just a bit deeper, IF this running back crew can become a quality committee throughout the year, things could get very interesting with Luck making his way back.

Maybe some should be taking more note of this Colts tight end room. They may turn out to be somewhat of a secret weapon in helping to get this offense off the ground in 2018.