The Depth Chart:
Normally, having a depth chart as a guide would make writing a position preview that much easier. However, with FSU’s first depth chart of the year coming out just a few days ago the tight end position still has some question marks:
More ORS than a regatta—am I right, Visser? Ha. Ha. Alright, let’s get to it.
Since last year, the group has seen some attrition with the departure of Nasier Uphsur in February, and more recently Alexander Marshall who left the team in fall camp and entered his name into the transfer portal. Marshall had been unable to see the field thus far in his career and was slotted as the 4th tight end on the roster behind the three projected contributors:
The current front-runner of the group, the Junior has seen the most playing time as a traditional tight end. McKitty was off to a hot start with 200 yards receiving through the first half of last season before the need to keep the quarterback upright became dire and he switched to a mainly blocking role for the remainder of the season.
McDonald played 11 games in 2018, but was used solely on special teams. While he is arguably the most talented receiving threat of the three listed on the depth chart, McDonald needed to bulk up and work on his blocking before seeing the field on offense—both of which he did this offseason.
McDonald split his time in fall camp working with both the receivers and tight ends, impressing as a pass catcher and with his hand in the dirt. The sophomore looks in line to see plenty of the field on offense this year.
Last year Nabers converted from fullback to tight end, serving primarily as a blocker and on special teams. Nabers was utilized sparingly as a receiver, but he did record three catches for 46 yards, and could see an increase in his target share in 2019.
A major reason I think we should see an uptick in production from the tight end group (besides maybe a teensy bit better offensive line play) is Briles’ offense.
In recent years Briles has had plenty of success utilizing the position. Last year at Houston his tight end, Romello Booker, accounted for 409 yards and 7 touchdowns. The year before that at FAU? Harrison Bryant had 408 yards and 5 touchdowns.
These guys aren’t exactly the next Travis Kelce, but Briles has been able to get the most out of the position and he has enough to work with in Tallahassee.
Looking ahead, the only thing that is slightly concerning is the lack of depth at the position. While I think the staff is confident in all three players’ for what they bring to the table, a single injury would be worrisome with just freshman walk-on Austin White as a reserve that we know little about. Although, White was a three star prospect with a 6 ’5” 235-pound frame.
Depth issues aside, I expect McKitty to continue to be the main guy, but with contributions coming from both McDonald and Nabers.
We’ll get our first glimpse of how they’re used in just over 24 hours!