I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s begin with 40th-ranked player: tight end Bear Pascoe.
To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.
Total Score: 38/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 48/100
Teams he is starter: 2 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 2 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 16 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +1
Positional Bonus: +3
Pascoe is a new pickup for the Falcons this offseason after having played five seasons with the New York Giants. In Atlanta, Pascoe will fill the same role he did in New York which is as a blocking tight end. That’s a role he could serve on half the teams in the league where he offers an upgrade over their current backups.
Pascoe offers that same upgrade to the Falcons tight end position, where he is a substantially better blocker than either Tony Gonzalez or Levine Toilolo were a year ago. In fact, the Falcons haven’t had a blocking tight end approaching Pascoe’s caliber since Justin Peelle in 2010. Pascoe is also versatile enough to line up at fullback just as easily as an inline tight end and be an effective blocker. He has good strength and knows how to use his superior size and hands to get leverage on a consistent basis.
But what value Pascoe brings as a blocker is contrasted with limited value as a receiver. While Pascoe does possess soft hands, he doesn’t have the sort of speed and quickness to consistently get separation. He caught 38 passes over five seasons with the Giants, but most of those came in instances where he was uncovered. Pascoe is good enough to be reliable checkdown option for a quarterback, but he’s not going to be able to consistently get open against most NFL linebackers and safeties. His career high in terms of targets were 20, set last year and it’s doubtful that Pascoe will eclipse that in Atlanta in 2014.
But that doesn’t mean Pascoe won’t add a lot of value. Because he’s a more polished blocker than Toilolo is at this point, it would not be a complete shock if he manages to earn more reps than Toilolo this year, particularly if Toilolo struggles as a receiver. Pascoe’s ability to line up at fullback also means he essentially can fill two roster spots in one. Given the Falcons planned de-emphasis on the fullback position this year, it’s possible that Pascoe could make carrying one on the roster unnecessary. Essentially, Pascoe could be a poor man’s Jimmy Kleinsasser, the long-time starting fullback and tight end for the Minnesota Vikings (1999-2011).
Pascoe is the epitome of a role player, a player capable of performing a specific role on the Falcons, and potentially several other teams if given the opportunity.