Blake Annen The Latest Freak Tight End For The Bearcats

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Given the reputation of the Bearcats offense over the last decade or so Tight End is probably the farthest thing from a hot spot for the Bearcats. And yet there has been a shocking accumulation of athletic talent at the position since the middle of the decade. An unbroken line of Brent Celek, Connor Barwin, Ben Guidugli, Adrien Robinson, Travis Kelce and now Blake Annen.

That, is a hell of a run at a single position for a nouveau riche program like the Bearcats. To be honest the season that Annen had this year was almost shocking. I certainly didn't expect him to have the season that he had this year.

But I don't know that he can unseat Annen before the end of camp. In time Dowdy will become the main guy at TE, it will probably happen before the end of the year.

So, so wrong on that count. Annen didn't benefit at all from the Bearcats shift to a more wideout friendly offense midway through the season. Where Kelce spent much of his time split out wide as a enormous slot receiver Annen was mostly restricted to the Bearcats jumbo packages and used mostly as a blocker. That is a role that he has to be very familiar with, because that has been what he has done for most of his career in the red and black.

I was surprised to find that Annen has actually played in 44 games for his career. Up until this past year he has gone largely unnoticed because he was behind Adrien Robinson and Travis Kelce for most of that time. As a whole the Butch Jones staff did a terrible job of utilizing the talent they had on hand at the position until that 2012 season when TK blew up and forced the staff to make room for him in the offense.

Annen's career is actually very similar to that of Adrien Robinson. He was by and large under utilized in his only season as the main guy at tight end who blew up with the NFL personnel types thanks to a next level performance at the Bearcats pro day. One major difference is that Robinson had a reputation around the program as a freak athlete long before his pro day. Annen was thought of as a good athlete, but people where genuinely floored by his pro day performance. That athleticism will probably get him drafted, or at the very least give him a spot in someones camp.

The difference between Annen and Robinson comes down to one main factor, consistency. Annen has never been a high volume player in the passing game. But when given the chance he has been efficient. He caught 70 percent of his targets this past year (16 of 23), and for his career his catch rate hovers around 80 percent.

If Annen can give a team a similar level of production he will be a steal of a draft pick because he does the little things for the position very well. The buzzword for him is that he is scheme versatile. He has played as the H-Back in the Bearcats pistol sets, as the full back in spots, split out wide and as an inline blocker. That is quite a bit of bouncing around, but the struggle for him has been getting on the field with Robinson and Kelce ahead of him. That versatility is going to be the key for Annen to find a role for whichever NFL team happens to draft him.



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