Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 17th best player in tight end Jacob Tamme.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 59.5/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 58/100
Teams he is starter: 14 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 9 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 30 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +1
Positional Bonus: +3
The retirement of Tony Gonzalez left a sizable hole for the Falcons at tight end in 2014, a hole that Levine Toilolo simply was capable of filling.
The Falcons believe they’ve now taken steps in 2015 to partially filling that void. While few can be expected to fill the shoes of a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer like Gonzalez, Tamme does give the team a significant step in the right direction to improving one of the team’s weakest positions.
Tamme comes to Atlanta after spending the previous seven years working with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Peyton Manning. Tamme was originally drafted as a backup to Dallas Clark with the Indianapolis Colts in 2008 and filled in ably in 2010 when Clark went down with injury.
When Manning left Indianapolis for Denver in 2012, Tamme quickly followed. In his first year in Denver, despite technically working as the backup tight end, Tamme’s rapport with Manning allowed him to finish third on the Broncos with 52 receptions.
Then in 2013 the emergence of the young phenom Julius Thomas, pushed Tamme to the margins. But in the few opportunities where Thomas has missed time due to injury, Tamme has stepped in and filled in ably, hitting the ground running with Manning
The Falcons expect that the same rapport that Tamme built with Manning over seven years, he’ll be able to replicate in his first year with Falcons passer Matt Ryan. Given the similar styles in play between the two passers, it’s not that crazy an assumption.
Tamme isn’t blessed with great size or dynamic speed that is going to dictate different coverages like Gonzalez once did. But he’s an effective H-back that runs crisp routes and has reliable hands. He is capable of winning the one-on-one opportunities that he’ll likely see given the presences of players like Julio Jones and Roddy White on the outside at wide receiver. Tamme’s greatest skill set will likely come from being a preferred target of Ryan’s on third downs, a similar role he played in Denver for Manning.
Ryan missed having a reliable route-runner and target over the middle of the field for much of the 2014 thanks to Gonzalez’s departure. Even if Tamme is just a fraction of the player that the former Falcons great was, it is still a significant step forward for Ryan and the offense.