With the increase in the use of two TE sets last season for the Los Angeles Rams, the tight end position has gained more value in head coach Sean McVay’s offense.
Gone are the days when the Rams lined up in three-receiver sets virtually every play during the tenure of McVay. Over the past two years, McVay has focused more on building diversity in personnel groupings and formations from snap to snap, forcing defenses to adjust more each week.
According to Next Gen Stats, the Rams employed two TE sets 30 percent of the time last season, up from 22 percent in 2019.
“We need to be more explosive offensively,” McVay said this offseason. “But we’ve been a really explosive offense with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and (TE Tyler) Higbee being center pieces of it -- those guys are going to continue to be that. But when you talk about opportunities, you have to call plays that give you an opportunity to be explosive and that’s where my contribution is.
“Anytime that you have guys that can do that, that definitely is a benefit. But we have guys on our roster that have done that when you look at the big-play production from those guys in particular. Saw a lot of good things from some younger players that we drafted last year, but we’re always trying to add some juice and we’ll see what the next month and a half entails.
Continuing that trend of diversity will be tested with talented, pass-catching tight end Gerald Everett signing with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. Everett’s ability to play off-the-ball tight end and fullback created versatility within McVay’s offense.
Everett finished with 41 receptions for 417 receiving yards and two total touchdowns last season.
The Rams were prepared for Everett moving on, selecting pass-catching tight end Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round last season. But he only played two snaps on offense his rookie season.
Johnny Mundt, more of a blocking tight end, showed the ability to make plays in the passing game in limited opportunities, and could see an expansion of his role in the offense. Kendall Blanton flashed some pass-catching ability during training camp.
The Rams could certainly use more bodies at tight end but might have to wait until after the draft to add talent, with more pressing needs at other positions being addressed during the draft.
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is the top-rated tight end in this year’s draft. But he’s a projected top-10 pick and will be long gone before the Rams select at No. 57.
Others that could make sense down the draft board include Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, Miami’s Brevin Jordan and Quentin Morris out of Bowling Green.
Tight ends currently on the roster
TE (4): Starter -- Tyler Higbee. Reserves -- Johnny Mundt, Brycen Hopkins, Kendall Blanton.
Tight ends to consider for the Rams
Round 2 (57)
Pat Freiermuth, 6-5, 250, Penn State
The skinny: Freiermuth projects as a complete tight end that can execute as a run blocker at the line of scrimmage and should contribute as an intermediate target in the passing game.
Round 3 (88)
Brevin Jordan, 6-3, 247 Miami
The skinny: Athletic, move tight end who can makes plays after the catch, Jordan should be a player that can stretch the middle of the field in the league.
Round 3 (103)
Hunter Long, 6-4, 250, Boston College
The skinny: Long has reliable hands and can consistently make contested catches in the middle of the field. He finished with 57 catches for 685 receiving yards and five touchdowns his final season at Boston College.
Round 4 (141)
Tre’ McKitty, 6-4, 246, Georgia
The skinny: Big, athletic target down the middle of the field and a solid run blocker. However, McKitty was limited to just six receptions for 108 receiving yards and one touchdown his final season at Georgia.
Round 6 (209)
Quintin Morris, 6-2, 243, Bowling Green
The skinny: Morris finished with 125 receptions for 1,529 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns in four seasons at Bowling Green. He projects as a move tight end at the next level and could provide a similar skill set for the Rams as Gerald Everett.
Round 7 (252)
John Bates, 6-3, 250, Boise State
The skinny: In-line tight end with functional skill set that can develop into a solid special teams player.