Heading into the season, it was easy to be excited for the Rams platoon of tight ends. Lance Kendricks ended 2012 as a capable receiver and blocker, a dual-threat type player that was seemingly always active on the offense. Corey Harkey secured a roster spot after spending 2012 on the practice squad and of course, the Rams spend gobs of money on Jared Cook.
After eight games, things haven't exactly gone as planned.
Oh, Cookie Monster. After a 'breakout' performance in week one, Cook's taken the back seat ever since. His sloppy route running, lazy blocking and lack of effort has generally made him a non-factor in the offense. What was thought of as a high-powered, high-tempo and high-speed attack has turned into a methodical, physical, run-first unit.
Unfortunately for Cook, he embodies none of those principals. It's too early to write him off completely, but he's only earned a single paycheck all year.
You can generally regard me as a fan of Lance Kendricks. I think he's a capable blocker and receiver- a steady second option that can fill in at multiple locations. His limitations have become evident; he's never going to be an elite player, but Sam Bradford (may his season rest in peace) and Kendricks have a good rapport.
Harkey's been a pleasant surprise this year. He's not much of a receiving threat, but he's definitely a viable red-zone checkdown. He's also a very capable and willing blocker, and serves as that hybrid FB/TE role that Kendricks occupied last year.
It's safe to say he's got the third spot locked down; but with the Rams crowded depth chat, anything more then that is a stretch. Still, you can't discount the fact that Harkey has been a pleasant surprise.
McNeill hasn't been featured as much as he was last year, due to the dual role Corey Harkey currently occupies. He's very much like Harkey - which could call into question his future with the Rams - in that his blocking is predominately his strong suit, with limited upside as a pass-catcher. He's part of the 12th best special teams unit, rated by Football Outsiders, so you can throw that in his review as well.