The Broncos have had a magical offseason, starting with winning the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. Whether it will end in the Super Bowl is an entirely different story, one the Philadelphia Eagles say is a sad one. For now, though, they continue to add pieces around Manning, signing Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme on the same day to solidify the tight end position.
Before the two tight ends signed on with Denver, pickings were slim at the position. Virgil Green was suspended for the first four games of the season, leaving Julius Thomas as the de facto starter at the position. While Thomas possesses some upside as a second-year player, the raw former basketball player left something to be desired. Dreessen and Tamme fix it all.
In Manning’s final season as a starter in Indianapolis, Jacob Tamme filled in so well for Dallas Clark that Mike Clay created handcuff rankings and named them the Tamme Index. His last season with the Colts was marred by injury and poor quarterback play — he was targeted just 28 times for 19 catches — so his 2010 season with Manning is more statistically relevant.
After Clark went down with a season-ending injury in 2010, Tamme became Manning’s favorite target. He amassed 67 catches on 90 targets for 677 yards and four touchdowns in just 10 games. His 9.4 yards per catch (YPC) and 4.7 YPC per reception left something to be desired.
While Dreessen has been second on the depth chart to Owen Daniels, for the most part, he has quietly averaged a 74.4% catch rate, 13.2 YPC, and 5.4 YPC/rec. over his past three seasons, nearly outperforming the starter last season.
So which of Manning’s shiny new tight ends should you target in drafts? Tamme signed a three-year $9 million contract, while Dreessen’s is three years for $8.5 million — there is no clear indication of starter there.
The reality is, Tamme was brought on as the receiving tight end, while Dreessen’s blocking prowess was his ticket to Denver. The latter ranked third at PFF with a +5.3 rush block rating, and seventh with a +3.0 pass block rating. Both will be productive with Manning at the helm, but only Tamme is deserving of TE1 status.
Funnily enough, Dreessen should be high up on the Tamme Index, as he will see the field plenty and would be an excellent handcuff for Tamme.
If Tamme’s ADP does not climb too high, he is well worth the pickup. He should be great value considering other owners will likely target Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez, and perhaps even Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis first.