We’ve already looked at how Chip Kelly utitlized tight ends during his final two seasons at Oregon. Each of the Ducks last two starting tight ends were productive and important players in a system that is better known for its use of the zone-read and its speed.
But as we try to predict how Kelly will use the tight end as he adjusts to the pro game, it makes more sense to focus on 2011 seventh-round draft pick David Paulson because he more closely resembles Eagles tight end Brent Celek than does current Oregon starter Colt Lyerla.
During his senior season in 2011, Paulson hauled in 31 receptions for 438 yards and six touchdowns. His 14.1 ypc were a big part of what Oregon did offensively, but as you’ll see in the video below, Paulson was primarily utilized in short and intermediate routes to the flat. Paulson, who wasn’t exactly a speedster (ran a 4.93 40-yard-dash at the 2011 combine), did possess enough quickness, like Celek (who ran a 4.78 prior to his draft), to stretch the field down the seam, but was by no means a gamebreaker. The Oregon product had more touchdowns as a senior (6) than he did catches of 20 or more yards (4).
Still, Kelly often created space for his tight end on the intermediate routes through the use of deception and clear outs. Rarely was the tight end asked to make catches in tight windows–something Celek does fairly well. It’ll be interesting to see if Kelly can create space for Celek, or if he’s willing to go to the tight end in tighter spots.
Paulson was an adequate blocker at the college level, but by no means elite. The same can be said for Celek at the pro level. What we can gather from this is that Kelly will look to optimize Celek’s skills and he has proven that he can effectively incorporate different types of tight ends into his offense at the college level. Like several of the other questions surrounding Kelly, his success will likely hinge upon how well he can adapt these principles at the next level.
Have a look at this compilation of plays where Paulson stands out.