With the addition of Jared Cook through free agency, the Rams invested heavily in the tight end position in 2013. Now in his second year, let's take a look at the position to see how things are stacking up.
Jared Cook - 29 rec (1), 53 tgt (1), 343 rec yds (2), 0 TDs (t-6)
As a receiving threat, Cook's credentials are obvious. He and Brian Quick were the Rams' two leading options in the passing game. With Quick out, it stood to reason that Cook would become the primary receiving target although that hasn't materialized yet. Whether it was a matter of Cook not elevating his game in Quick's absence or the fact that Austin Davis' worst two-game stretch of 2014 has come since Quick went down (perhaps not an insignificant coincidence) is difficult to say.
What's not is that the Rams need Cook to be a relevant member of the passing corps in terms of production in order to operate effectively. It's no coincidence that Davis' aforementioned two-game stretch saw Cook catch just three balls for a paltry 23 yards. Compare that to the Philadelphia-San Francisco back-to-back pairing in which Cook totaled 23 targets for 8 receptions and 118 yards.
He's as necessary as he's ever been between the red zones. It's also more important than ever for him to step up his role and legitimize his five-year, $35m contract from 2013. If he's not able to, the Rams will have to re-think the seven-million-per-year track they embark on with Cook starting in 2015.
Lance Kendricks - 17 rec (5), 23 tgt (5), 135 rec yds (t-5), 4 TDs (1)
GLUE. Kendricks has been a mainstay component of the Rams' offense ever since he was drafted back in 2011. He's on track for nearly an identical statistical output compared to 2013 save for the early touchdown totals. The Rams have a big decision to make on his future as he's in the last year of his rookie contract and is rather inexpensive coming in at under $1m for 2014. It's easy to picture a shuffling of backup tight ends without issue, but I'd contend Kendricks is more valuable than his numbers suggest.
Cory Harkey - Who cares
Harkey's value will never be reflected in traditional statistics. He's a key component of the running game who adds value as a surprise option when the Rams pass with him in the formation. There's a question of quality; I don't know that anyone would list Harkey as one of the best FB options in the game (who happens to be listed as a tight end officially by the team). He might be one of the most valuable though given his use rate and lack of suitable replacement. He's grown into his role in his third year, and his first half of the season is a fair output for what the Rams demand of him.