November 12, 2011; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tight end Jack Doyle (82) is tackled by LSU Tigers linebacker Stefoin Francois (23) during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Searching for undrafted free agents who could win a spot on the 2013-14 Tennessee Titans Week 1 roster? One player who has made a case during OTAs is Jack Doyle. Projected as a mid-round selection, Doyle hopes to win a job among a group of tight ends that already include Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens and Taylor Thompson.
As a member of Western Kentucky University, Doyle ranks among the all-time most productive tight ends in school history. He finished 2012 with 53 receptions for 566 yards and five touchdowns. Titans tight end coach George Henshaw praised Doyle for his balanced approach as a receiver and blocker.
Here’s a draft profile report from NFL.com, “bottom line:”
The first-team All-Sun Belt tight end is a big target, and fluid athlete. Doyle adjusts to passes like a much smaller player. However, he doesn’t adequately use his size as a blocker. While he doesn’t have great speed, he has enough to challenge the seams. When this is combined with his ability to find openings in zones, he will likely be a mid-round selection.
Doyle has made an immediate impression. On June 6, The Tennessean reported that Doyle had caught more than a half-dozen passes, one of which was a touchdown from Jake Locker. At 6-6 and 253 pounds, Doyle appears to have everything necessary for a top-tier candidate on the practice squad—maybe more.
Would the Titans keep more than three tight ends? It’s not entirely uncommon. During the 2011-12 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers retained five tight ends: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor. Tight ends can provide depth as emergency fullbacks and offer quality play on special teams. It’s common to see teams keep four tight ends on their 53-man roster.
Let’s assume that the Titans keep four tight ends. Doyle would still have to hold off competition from Brandon Barden and Martell Webb. Barden finished last season on the 53-man roster while Webb finished on the practice squad. Although Barden had an off-field incident with the law a few months ago, his DUI charges were dropped when the arresting officer never appeared for court.
Along with Barden and Webb, Doyle has a nice opportunity. How much can Doyle offer on special teams? Could he (or any of the other tight ends) serve as a No. 2 fullback (looks at Stevens)? That would make Quinn Johnson or Collin Mooney more expendable and increase the chances that four tight ends are retained.
Maybe if Doyle impresses enough, he could leapfrog Thompson on the depth chart. All fans should keep an eye on the tight-end situation as training camp begins to unfold in late July.