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Bears 2018 Report Cards: Tight Ends

The tight end position is one of the tougher ones to play in the NFL, and the system that Matt Nagy runs for the Bears does not make it any easier. Tight ends need to be very versatile in his scheme, as they are expected to play a key role in run blocking and run plenty of routes.

I gave out grades on the Bears’ tight ends, based on both their play on the field and how well they filled the role that was expected of them.

Trey Burton

Trey Burton was one of Ryan Pace’s biggest signings in the 2018 offseason. I was optimistic that he would be a great fit on the team, and that he could develop.

Burton is not a bust of a signing, but he is being overpaid for his given value. First and foremost, he is not a good blocker, he struggled staying on his man throughout the entire season.

He was not signed to be an elite blocker, though, and the team knew that, but what they did expect was for him to be a great receiving tight end. However, he was really just an average to above average receiver.

Burton has great athleticism, which allows him to get open quite often. He had tied for 10th in the NFL in receptions among tight ends with 54. His yardage total was alright, as he finished the season with 569 receiving yards, which places him 13th.

These are decent numbers for Burton, but he is going to need to take another step next season. The thing about his position in the reception and receiving yards rankings is that the top five or so tend to rise far above the rest. There are lots of tight ends putting up similar numbers as Burton, and many of them are better blockers.

The number that Bears fans should be pleased with is his six receiving touchdowns, which places him in second place on the team. Burton was effective in the red zone, and made big plays in the clutch, like his big touchdown catch that lead the Bears claiming the NFC North crown.

The number that Bears fans should be pleased with is his six receiving touchdowns, which places him in second place on the team. Burton was effective in the red zone, and made big plays in the clutch, like his big touchdown catch that lead the Bears claiming the NFC North crown.

A couple of them may have been shovel passes, but they still count as receiving touchdowns.

I still have faith that Trey Burton could be a good signing for the Bears, as this is his first year in the system. Another year of him and Trubisky in the Nagy scheme could result in a breakout year.

Grade: C+

Adam Shaheen

Adam Shaheen is still a mystery for the Bears, as he has flashes where he looks like the monster that he could grow to be one day. The problem is that he has not been on the field enough.

He has generally been improving, but it is hard to say how good he is going to be. The big advantage that he has over Burton is his blocking ability. He already has a size advantage over Burton, but he has been improving on his technique at the position.

Shaheen has also shown improvement in his receiving ability. He is still the crazy athletic player for his size, but he is also improving the mental side of his game.

I did a full breakdown of this play that was during the Bears-Packers game in Week 15, as it was one of my favorite plays of the entire season. While everyone may be focusing on the ridiculous escape by Trubisky, Shaheen did an excellent job of finding space for his quarterback.

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If Shaheen stays where his route ends, this ball is likely picked off if Trubisky forces it. Instead, he flows over to the open spot in coverage.

Even though I loved some of the plays, Shaheen gets points taken off for participation, as he wasn’t out on the field. Another year of Adam Shaheen in the Bears system could be scary.

Grade: C+

Ben Braunecker

Braunecker did not see the field a ton this past season, but he was solid for the Bears as a depth player. Braunecker filled in for Adam Shaheen when he was gone, and even earned some time for himself when Shaheen came back.

When Braunecker was out on offense, he actually made some decent plays. His catch against the Lions was one of the best from any Bear this season.

The bad mark Braunecker’s season was not on offense, but on special teams. Braunecker allowed a blocked punt against the Patriots, which led to the Patriots narrowly winning the game. He was fine special teams player this season, but that mistake hurt his overall grade.

Grade: C

Dion Sims

I wish I could give a grade lower than an F to Dion Sims, but I guess it will have to do.

I feel like I don’t need to say much about Sims. As most of you probably know, he is not a very good football player. If you need a reminder, watch the two clips below.

I feel like I don’t really need to add anything else for his observation.

Grade: F

Conclusion

I know the grades for these guys are not the most positive, but the good news is that the guys that will be on the team next year are all relatively young players playing a very tough position.

This position group could be the one that sees the biggest internal improvement next season. I can see both Burton and Shaheen having big seasons next season if they continue to grow in this offense, and the depth of Braunecker and Daniel Brown (Not mentioned because of lack of playing time) allows the Bears to feel safe at that position.

Follow Dan (@DanDeYoung80) on Twitter

 

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