Gone are the days when Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum, Lance Kendricks and Garrett Graham made it onto NFL teams through the draft and found success based on their receiving ability more than their role as blocker. The new NFL may be all about passing, but Badgers football under Gary Andersen and Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig will need the 2014 crop primarily as big bodies.
Sam Arneson (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) will be the starter. There’s no competition here. He’s the lone senior and only experienced receiver in the group. Austin Traylor also appears to be the No. 2, hand-in-ground tight end, even though he’s shorter and weighs less (6-3, 248).
**Derek Watt is not a tight end. Yes he’s a fullback in the sense that Jimmy Graham is a tight end, will have loads of playing time at tight end, catch passes out of the backfield and possibly in the back of the end zone, but he’s not a tight end. He’s 6-2, 235 pounds and has a main obligation to run up the middle for Melvin Gordon. You would never have thought Bradie Ewing was a tight end either.
As I mentioned in the Iowa Preview, the Badgers TEs average around 6-5, 250 pounds. That combination isn’t exceptional for receivers (Daniels, Beckum, Kendricks and Graham are all 6-3, 240-250), but it’s a better matchup to the Badgers offensive line which boasts 6-5 to 6-8 tackles.
Austin Maly is exactly 6-5, 250 may get some time because he’s waited long enough. Troy Fumagalli and T.J. Watt also may just be what breaks to mold back into receiving tight ends, but they will have to wait their turn, probably until MG3 takes off for the draft.
— Troy Fumagalli (@TroyFumagalli) August 4, 2014
That’s Fumagalli on the right and Watt on the left. Both are listed at 6-5 and around 245 pounds, however it’s clear Watt is at least an inch shorter than than his fellow redshirt freshman. Maybe it’s the angle, or some Watt family wishful thinking, but if Ludwig and Tight Ends coach Jeff Genyk need blockers, I don’t want T.J. Watt in there.
Starters: Arneson, D. Watt, Traylor
Relief: Fumagalli, T.J. Watt
Deep Bench: Eric Steffes, Sam Eckert, Maly