(Over the offseason, we’ll take a look at each of the position groups. Today, we look at the tight ends.)
FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme, who’s headed into his eighth season in the league, had his second most productive season in the NFL in 2015.
Tamme caught 59 passes on 81 targets. In 2010, while playing for the Indianapolis Colts he caught 67 passes on 93 targets.
“I really feel like my best years are still in front of me,” Tamme said. “Which is a good feeling to have at this point in my career. That’s an exciting thing for me.”
Tamme appears to be the Falcons tight end for 2016, while they get third-round pick Austin Hooper ready for the long-haul.
Hooper was the second-rated tight end in the draft behind Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry, who was selected in the second-round by the San Diego Chargers.
Hooper missed most of the offseason program per the leagues academic rules. The Falcons sent information to Hooper’s iPad and coaches were allowed to call.
“The information was great, but nothing can really substitute for actual reps here in the humidity and heat against some of the best players in the world,” Hooper said.
Hooper was on hand for the team’s mandatory minicamp.
“It’s a little different doing it in real life as opposed to studying it on the iPad,” Hooper said. “The coaches did a great job of keeping me up to speed. Now, I’m just working on the techniques now that I know what to do and where to go.”
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was happy to see Hooper at the minicamp.
“He’s a big, athletic guy,” Ryan said. “He’s physical. He did a couple of nice things.”
Hooper impressed the Falcons with his pass-catching ability.
“We really liked his route-running ability,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He really comes off the ball hard. He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he’s fast enough. He’s got good cutting ability, so he can break guys off at the top of his routes.
“He’s a big guy with length who’s got very good ball skills. He’s not scared to attack the ball. When he’s covered, he still has a chance to make the play.”
Tamme has welcomed Hooper in the group.
“He’s done a great job as an older and savvy veteran coaching me up,” Hooper said. “Coach (Wade) Harman has done a tremendous job with me. Jacob has also been like my second coach. I’m essentially the new guy here, so they’ve all done a great job of helping me.”
Levine Toilolo was one of the unsung stars of the team’s rushing attack last season as a blocking tight end.
He set the edge and cleared paths from running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to break outside.
When he was drafted in 2013, the Falcons hoped that he could develop in to a red-zone pass-catching threat. While that has not materialized, the 6-foot-8 Levine appeared to catch the ball more fluidly this offseason.
“He’s rock solid in the run game and he’s continued to improve in the pass game,” Ryan said.
Toilolo caught seven passes on just 12 targets last season. Over his career, Toilolo has 49 catches on 81 targets (60.4 percent).
83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Austin Hooper, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 82 Joshua Perkins
90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS — POSITION BY POSITION
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PROJECT PASS RUSH
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