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What To Do At TE?

Let's move on with our quasi-comprehensive look at the roster of your Houston Texans so we can begin our draft analysis in earnest, shall we?  Next under the microscope:  Tight End.

As of today, here's what Smithiak has to work with at TE as we trudge toward September of 2008:

  1.  Owen Daniels
  2.  Mark Bruener
  3.  Joel Dreessen
  4.  Jeb Putzier
No controversy here; despite his early-season struggles holding onto the ball, Owen Daniels is the clear-cut starter at TE.  OD did, after all, have more receptions than all but five (5) TEs in the entire league.  And given the fact that he nearly doubled his catches from 2006 to 2007, it's fair to say that there may not be another guy you'd rather have holding down the fort for the next three years or so.

As with so many positions on the depth chart in Houston, it gets considerably murkier after Daniels.  The real question is what the team does with Jeb Putzier.  When Putzier came to Houston from Denver after the 2005 season, the expectation was that he would produce like, well, Owen Daniels.  As we all know, that hasn't happened, due in part to Daniels rocketing up the depth chart and taking snaps away from Putzier.  Given that inconvenient truth and Kubes' steadfast reluctance to unveil any two TE sets, I find it difficult to believe that Rick Smith is going to be giddy about paying Putzier nearly four times (4x) in base salary what the team is paying Owen Daniels.  While I firmly believe that Jeb Putzier has a place as a pass-catching TE in the NFL, the factors enumerated above make me think he's going to be plying his trade somewhere outside of Houston in 2008.

Mark Bruener and Joel Dreessen both appear to be unrestricted free agents.  Bruener, the wily veteran and noted run blocker, will probably be brought back if he wants to stave off retirement for one more year.  Dreessen showed flashes in very limited action; I think those flashes, coupled with a minimal salary, will be enough for him to head into camp as a favorite to nail down a back-up spot.

As far as the draft goes, TE isn't a position of need, particularly considering the glaring weaknesses elsewhere on the roster (cough, SECONDARY, cough).  Perhaps a late round flyer if there's someone there that the staff really likes, but certainly no early round attention, if any at all.