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Chargers tight ends: Better or worse in 2016?

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A position-by-position look at the San Diego Chargers’ roster, and whether the team is better or worse off than they were last season.

NFL: San Diego Chargers-Training Camp Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

We are reviewing every position group and comparing them to last year’s vintage. So far, we have checked in on running backs and quarterbacks. Today, we turn our attention to the tight ends.

Tight Ends

  • Asante Cleveland
  • Matt Weiser
  • Tim Semisch
  • Sean McGrath
  • Antonio Gates
  • Hunter Henry
  • Jeff Cumberland

Analysis

The biggest name missing from this year’s list is Ladarius Green who signed a 4-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in March. He was an electric player that seemed to always make plays when he was on the field. Unfortunately, a combination of injuries and an inability to block kept him off the field far too often. That injury problem, which included concussions, has not gotten any better as he underwent surgery in January and is now missing training camp due to headaches. He may end up getting cut and could ultimately retire.

Future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates is back for yet another season. He’s getting older and slower, but if practice is any indication, neither of those things matter. His technique is so flawless that he’s still practically uncoverable and the man still has great hands.

Second-round pick Hunter Henry has been one fo the stars of training camp. Until yesterday, I don’t believe he had dropped a pass. I also didn’t see him drop the pass, so I’m skeptical that it actually happened. I have repeatedly mentioned that it’s unfair to have big expectations for a rookie tight end because they rarely make the transition so quickly. Henry is making it difficult to keep expectations in check. He looks like a future star and one that is ready to start contributing today.

Jeff Cumberland is expected to hold onto the #3 tight end position. He’s not the most exciting player. #3 tight ends rarely are. But he’s a solid blocker and he’s been torching the second and third team defenses in practice, so there’s at least reason to be optimistic about him.

Sean McGrath has also had his way with the third team defense, but he’s probably not making the team unless there are substantial injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.

Cleveland and Semisch are competent players but really just camp bodies. Weiser could be a practice squad player. He has some potential and could be a depth player in the future.

Better or Worse?

Better. A lot better, actually. 85 is still 85. Henry looks like a big improvement over Green. Cumberland also looks more capable than David Johnson or whoever that other guy was from last year. I’m pumped to see a ton of 12 personnel this season. Tight end is very exciting this year.