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Los Angeles Rams Tight Ends: Better, Worse, or Same in 2016?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue with our better, worse, same series covering the Los Angeles Rams’ position groups, today we'll look at the tight ends. In case you missed it, we've covered a few offensive positions already:

*  Quarterbacks
*  Running Backs
*  Wide Receivers

Offseason optimism is in full swing in early July, as all position groups have earned your "better" vote thus far. One can only hope it translates into meaningful production this fall.

Tight Ends

Lance Kendricks
Tyler Higbee
Temarrick Hemingway
Cory Harkey
Justice Cunningham
Benson Browne

Analysis

If you’d polled every Rams’ fan prior to the onset of free agency, and asked them to name one player they’d like to see released this offseason, you’d most likely receive one answer:  Jared Cook. And the Rams did right by the fanbase when they, in somewhat surprising fashion, cut him along with veterans Chris Long and James Laurinaitis. Cook started off strong with the Rams, catching seven passes in the 2013 season opener; good for 141 yards and two scores. And it was downhill from there. If you’re not going to block, you need to catch. And you certainly don’t need to shove the QB when you can’t hold on to one. Enjoy those warm Wisconsin winter months.

Lance Kendricks will be around at least through the 2016 season, with all the guaranteed money on his 4-year deal (which is good through 2018) being paid out by the end of this year. He’ll do a fine job as the team’s third on-field offensive tackle.

With the big-bodied, athletic, pass-catching tight end spot now void in the Rams’ offense, they utilized their second selection in the 2016 Draft to provide Jared Goff with a weapon:  Tyler Higbee. He’s younger. He’s far cheaper. And there’s little reason to believe he can’t catch a football. Win, win, win.

The Rams doubled down on tight ends this draft, using the first of their three 6th-round picks on South Carolina St.’s Temarrick Hemingway. Though not a household name on draft day, Hemingway is extremely athletic and could be a nightmare matchup for linebackers. At the NFL Combine, Hemingway ran the second fast 40-yard dash (4.71) and was also a top performer in the 3-cone drill (1st) and 60 yard shuttle (2nd). He may be a bit of a project and might not factor into the offense immediately, but if the Rams’ can polish his skill sets, he’s an intriguing threat for seasons to come.

The Rams love Cory Harkey. Heck, everyone loves Cory Harkey. He just doesn’t play very much.

Better, Worse, or Same?

Better. Jared Cook was cut. What else needs to be said?