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Can Mo Alie-Cox emerge as the Colts’ first-string tight end this season?

NFL: OCT 06 Colts at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Colts have been in search for a big-play, explosive tight end since the departure of Eric Ebron a few seasons ago. Many believe rookie fourth-round pick Kylen Granson could be the solution to that problem.

But expecting any rookie — especially one as important as a tight end in Frank Reich’s offense — to come in and make an immediate impact, is a lot to ask of Granson. In my mind, shouldering most of the load on a rookie tight end may not bode well for the Colts. It’s likely best to let Granson come in and learn his way around the offense a bit before assigning such high expectations.

That being said, this could present an opportunity for fourth-year tight end Mo Alie-Cox to continue progressing in a positive direction, potentially leading to him taking over as the team’s number one tight end throughout the upcoming season.

Last season, Alie-Cox’s numbers were significantly better than they had been since being added to the team in 2018. The 6’6” tight end hauled in 31 catches for 394 yards and 2 touchdowns, according to profootballreference.com. For context purposes, Alie-Cox nearly doubled his total yardage from his first two seasons, as he only caught a total of 15 receptions for 226 yards during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

For Alie-Cox to be considered the Colts’ true, first-string tight end, he’ll have to continue to grow as a pass-catcher. Luckily for him, quarterback Carson Wentz had a ton of success with two and three tight end sets during his time with Reich in Philadelphia.

With Indy set to cater the offense to benefit of their big-armed quarterback, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Alie-Cox plays a much larger role this season. Keeping that in mind, let’s not forget about Jack Doyle, the long-time, very reliable and current first-string tight end. Alie-Cox, even at just 27-years-old, will have to rightfully earn that spot.

Despite being due for a new contract here soon, Doyle doesn’t appear to be going anywhere at the moment. I’d also argue that Doyle is the team’s best run-blocking tight end currently, and even though he’s 31 and his numbers as a pass-catcher have tailed off a bit over the last few seasons, he still makes enough key plays to hold a very considerable amount of value for the Colts moving forward.

Keeping everything mentioned in mind, I believe Alie-Cox continues to consistently improve as a pure tight end, and, at the very least, has an opportunity to become Indy’s number one tight end for the 2021 season and maybe even moving forward, too.