Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at each position group and giving our way-too-early depth chart projections. Today, we move on to the tight ends.
Starter - Dan Arnold
Despite Matt Rhule's high praise for Ian Thomas this offseason, I'm going with Dan Arnold as the starter. Arnold has the best hands of all the tight ends and should immediately fix the Panthers' lack of production from that position in the passing game. Is he George Kittle or Travis Kelce? Absolutely not but he should be a reliable option for Sam Darnold over the middle of the field and even in the red zone. Last year with the Arizona Cardinals, Arnold caught 31 passes for 438 yards and four touchdowns. The Panthers' tight end room combined only totaled 27 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns. So yeah, Arnold is TE1.
Backup - Ian Thomas
As previously mentioned, Matt Rhule has been very excited about Ian Thomas. He's stated that he's had a really good offseason and that having OTAs and minicamp this year will help him develop in this system. However, this is one of those situations where I have to see it to believe it. Thomas has never been much of a receiving threat even dating back to his college days at Indiana. If he doesn't show any improvement this season, he could be on his way out of Carolina.
3rd string - Tommy Tremble
Tommy Tremble is my favorite of this group because of the way he plays the game. He's a hard-hitting blocking tight end that brings a whole new level of toughness and physicality to the offense. He's got to polish up his game as a receiver but that will come with time. The fact that he can block as good as he does is rare for a player his age. Most tight ends come into the league with the primary focus being a receiver. His blocking ability will allow him to see the field quite a bit while other areas of his game come along.
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