Lance Kendricks looks poised for a big season. The St. Louis Rams rookie tight end led all rookies during the preseason with 11 receptions and 3 touchdowns. He was second in receiving yards with 155, just two less than Julio Jones. If you paid attention in April, then you do not need my hackneyed effort to juxtapose Jones, Kendricks and the story of the Rams' draft. What can the Rams expect from Kendricks this season?
Go ahead and take a stab at the predictions in ram_rod's community projection post. Also, I should say right now, after that intro, that I do not expect Kendricks to compare to Julio Jones, though I do think the WIsconsin product will be a very good tight end.
Some historical analysis after the jump.
A good baseline for Kendricks, based on what we saw in the preseason and similar offenses, is 40 receptions. Daniel Fells had 41 receptions for the Rams last year.
Since 1990, fifteen rookie tight ends have caught more than 40 passes. The list:
Spring time for tight ends? Notice that 4 rookie tight ends topped 40 catches last year. Jermaine Gresham was the only TE take in the first round. Tony Moeaki, a third-round pick, and Kendricks get compared with each other some.
Most obvious on this list, however, are Bill Belichick's double tight end threat, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Separated by just 3 receptions, Gronk and Hernandez also shared similar yards per catch totals. Gronk's 10 touchdowns tied him with such luminaries as Antonio Gates and Mercedes Lewis for the most TDs by a TE.
Supposedly, the New England pattern is exactly what McDaniels wants to emulate in St. Louis this year. Michael Hoomanawanui's role in those plans might be compromised given his injury situation. With or without Hoomanawanui, quarterback Sam Bradford made it perfectly clear that he plans to pass to Kendricks this year. A reduced role for Uh Oh probably means more scores for the rookie.
For more on the 2-TE sets, be sure to back and read 3k's extensive look in the Playbook Projector.
If 40 receptions is a good floor, what is a good ceiling? Shockey was the Giants' number two receiver in 2002, after Amani Toomer. The ceiling for Kendricks' numbers is lowered because the Rams have more receiving options and appear likely to spread the ball out more to guys like Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Mike Sims-Walker, etc.
By the way, no tight end has ever won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.