Do you think Chudzinski likes Tight Ends much? A lot has been written and discussed about the signings of first Shockey and then Greg Olsen, and rightly so. These guys are big-time receivers with TE size, and will no doubt create mis-matches galore in the passing game. But I'm here today to talk about the "unsung" free agent Tight End; the one that blocks... his name, in case you've forgotten, is Ben Hartsock, who signed a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers on July 27.
I suppose the characterization as a "blocking TE" is a fair one. In his eight NFL Seasons (Colts, Titans, Falcons, and Jets), Hartsock has accumulated a staggering 29 receptions for 282 yards (9.7 ypc). His longest reception went for 27 yards, and he has 1 career TD.
Hartsock attended The Ohio State University, where he played tight end. He was a three-time Academic All-Big 10 Conference honoree and won CoSIDA Academic All-American honors as a junior. Brains and Brawn!
During his college career, Hartsock started 31 of 51 games. For his career, he had 58 receptions for 519 yards (8.9 yards per reception average). Hartsock recorded 33 catches for 290 yards (2 TDs) in his senior year alone and was a contributor for the 2002 National Championship team that defeated the Miami Hurricanes in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Hartsock was drafted in the 3rd round (68th pick overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
Showing the career stat chart for a blue collar guy like Ben Hartsock is really unnecessary and meaningless. His forte is blocking, and he does it as well as any TE in the league. Here are his Rotoworld basics:
Ben Hartsock / Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'4' / 268
College: The Ohio State University
Hartsock will play the blocking specialist role next to Jeremy Shockey in a run-heavy attack. The Jets were interested in bringing Hartsock back at a lower rate, so they'll have to turn elsewhere for Dustin Keller's partner.
Cold Hartsock Facts:
- With the Jets last year, out of 459 total snaps, Hartsock lined up wide only 8% of the time, as an in-line TE 83%, in the backfield 1%, and as an O-Lineman 8%. These numbers are comparable with Jeff King, except King never actually played as an O-Lineman.
Pro Football Focus has Hartsock ranked 5th out of 41 free agent TEs for 2011. Rosario is 33rd and Jeff King 35th. Shockey, btw, was 24th.
- Hartsock has helped pave the way for three 1,000-yard rushers, including Edgerrin James (2004 and 2005 for IND), LenDale White (2007 for TEN) and Michael Turner (2008 for ATL).
Pro Football Focus also had this to say about Hartsock (emphasis mine):
It was something of a surprise when the Atlanta Falcons released Hartsock at the beginning of the year, although in hindsight a blessing for the man who had fallen behind Justin Peelle on the depth chart. The run-balanced Jets were quick to pick him up, and it was a marriage made in heaven. The Jets wanted a tight end who could block to complement/replace Dustin Keller, and Hartsock wanted a team that would give him plenty of snaps. Both got what they wanted. Hartsock managed 500 regular-season snaps, and while he was only thrown at four times, his blocking was tremendous. Games against Buffalo and Tampa Bay highlighted this strength, but it was work in the Divisional Playoff game against San Diego and Conference Championship game against the Colts that will catch the attention of teams looking for an upgrade in their run-blocking from the TE spot. He’ll never be the type to catch a lot of balls, but he has shown how much of an upgrade he can offer with his run-blocking, and so will command interest.
Ben Harsock 2004 NFL Combine Numbers (a.k.a., the panthersroar special / jk)
40 Yrd Dash: 4.80
20 Yrd Dash: 2.78
10 Yrd Dash: 1.65
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 23
Vertical Jump: 35
Broad Jump: 09'09"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.03
3-Cone Drill: 7.11
I fully expect Ben Hartsock to become an important role player for the Panthers, using his "tremendous" blocking ability to open holes for Double Trouble, while also helping keep blitzers off of Cam. And with our power running game re-established, don't be surprised when Hartsock slips out wide open on a few short yardage and goal line plays. Hartsock is also a high-character guy (sponsors his own Youth Football Camp) that will bring more veteran leadership to the locker room. The "unsung TE" is definitely a player worth watching this year.