“The expectations of life depend on diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools,” Confucius once wrote. I was happy to be able to carve out time in my schedule and head towards Denver for the Bears’ inter-squad practice Wednesday open to the public. Although my sense of humor has been a leading part of my life, I still was not compelled to blast “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver as my travelling companion would have jumped out! In all seriousness this Tight End report has a pleasant conundrum. This year’s roster makes it really hard to eliminate even one or two. The talent is there! Strictly as it pertains to the 2018 team, not one of the six players truly has any significant time of excellence for the Bears that clearly separates them. Sure, contracts or draft order have designated the stature for at least the top 3. Yet that is still levied heavily by projection more than undeniable stats.
Driving more than 400 miles on Tuesday gave me time to think about prior practices and 2 Pre-Seasons games. This year the Bears have interesting choices to make at Tight End. This battle may have a dynamic unlike others on the team; it seems almost more of a flavor question i.e. taste buds, and not who’s better or worse? Many teams in the league would envy having such a dilemma.
Trey Burton, the off-season prize acquisition for Pace at Tight End, heads this list for more reasons than one. Trey was on the championship Eagles last year and gained national prominence after his Philadelphia miracle pass play to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl. Trey had never reached starter status with the Eagles as they were very balanced at the position with Ertz and Brent Celek being the primary focus. Nevertheless, Pace saw enough in Trey to offer 22 million dollars guaranteed on a 4-year 32 million dollar deal?! I will make this roster breakdown in the vain of Mile High and flavors or favorites that correspond in taste.
- Trey Burton #80 6’3 235 Undrafted out Florida in 2014 was difficult to scout for teams given the multiple roles he had played for Florida. Recruited as quarterback, he played wide receiver, tight end and fullback; as a freshman he broke Tim Tebow’s single game scoring record with six touchdowns. This versatility gives Pace and Nagy reason to think Tre can be what Travis Kelce is to Kansas City. Training camp has allowed us to see those traits. His quickness is apparent, and timing with Trubisky is building. Pre-Season has not allowed us to see Trey’s ability fully displayed as of yet; Saturday’s game against Denver should start to quantify what he has shown thus far in practice. Fruity Pebbles: because he has all the flavors to make an offense irresistible.
- Dion Sims #88 6’4″ 268 4th rounder out of Michigan St. in 2013 carrying a 6,333,333 million dollar cap hit in 2018 and has been nicked up lately. Dion can block and has shown more ability to get open in practice, and other times seems slow or limited to create separation. I did not see Dion Wednesday in Denver, and honestly if not for that heavy 6 million cap hit I would find it hard to keep him. Captain Crunch: given his ability to stone dudes with blocks and overall mouth full red zone size you may regret indulging.
- Adam Shaheen #82 6’5″ 270. Adam out of Ashland drafted 2017 in Rd 2 in his 2nd year has just started to scratch the surface. Adam may have been stifled last year with the limited John Fox/ Loggains’s offensive lack of ingenuity to include him. Adam’s 2018 early camp results along with Pre-Season play has shown glimpses to what he may become. The in-line blocking is a skill he must continue to work on in order to find more immediate time on multiple downs. The red zone intrigue giving his frame and basketball background shines. Honey Bunches Of Oates: given his sweet potential and solid value to fill up the end zone and play X or Y in this offense.
- Ben Braunecker #84, Daniel Brown #85 and Colin Thompson #82 have me the most undecided with similar size and all coming into the league as undrafted free agents. 6’4″ to 6’5″ 250ish has more of a doppelgänger affect and leaves the eyes questioning your assessment to which player is better for the Bears.
Daniel Brown has more time in the league by one year over Ben and three over Colin. Colin appears the larger of the three oddly given the similar measurements. Two Pre-Season games visually and statistically have given Daniel the edge. The practices, especially the one I watched in Denver, shows me Colin Thompson and Ben Braunecker make better cuts. Both also have a larger catch radius. All three have also missed blocks or been prone to drops in times, leading me to realize this will be decided only by final cuts. My intuition can only offer for two possibilities: blocking at Y position, and special teams ultimately decides this battle. I like Colin Thompson more, being that he was highly recruited out of high school showing his talent. He has a wider frame looking for devolpment and hoping his college injuries are behind him. Wheaties: as all three have solid level of play, fundamentals with evidence of growth just good enough that you continue to want more.