Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Roundtable Analysis: Arkansas Tight Ends
Hawgs Illustrated/BEN GOFF Colton Jackson (from left), Arkansas tackle, Cheyenne O'Grady (85), Arkansas tight end, and Johnny Gibson, Arkansas tackle, celebrate after O'Grady scored a touchdown in the third quarter against Ole Miss Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
Cheyenne O’Grady and Jeremy Patton look, on paper, to be a solid 1-2 punch at tight end. Who do you have the most confidence in to be a reliable run blocker/pass catcher?
Tom Murphy: We're clearly talking about the best overall tight end here, and I think the delineation between these two is O'Grady is clearly the better catcher with superb hand-eye skills and Patton is probably the better blocker. It's close but Patton might have the more complete package.
Dudley Dawson: I think O'Grady is the better receiver and Patton is the better blocker from what I have seen. I think O'Grady is also more explosive and the tougher match-up.
Bob Holt: I think they both have the skills to be pretty effective in Arkansas’ new offense, but I tend to have more confidence in O’Grady because he’s made steady improvement while Patton has been slowed by injuries at times. Patton is going into his second season as a junior college transfer, so it’s possible he’ll be ready to take a big jump, though it’s a new offense for everybody.
Scottie Bordelon: When Jeremy Patton showed up on campus, I thought he was destined to be one of the best tight ends Arkansas has had. He's got a great frame and can move well. Things just didn't work out for him last year, but I see him being much more productive this fall. That said, I have more confidence in O'Grady putting up solid numbers in 2018. We saw in the spring game that O'Grady has some big-play ability in him and, from what we've heard from the new staff, tight end will play an essential role in this offense. I'm with Dudley. I think O'Grady has the better year.
True or false: An Arkansas tight end will finish the season with 400-plus receiving yards. If true, who?
Tom Murphy: I do believe the Chad Morris/Joe Craddock offense will target tight ends, as evidenced by their scrimmages, so I'll say O'Grady finishes with between 400 and 500 receiving yards with Patton a little less than 400.
Dudley Dawson: True. O'Grady. I think he is poised for a big, big year as Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock get the opportunity to show off a tight end in their offense, which is something they did not have the opportunity to do at SMU.
Bob Holt: I don’t think a tight end will have 400-plus receiving yards. Maybe if the Razorbacks had one go-to tight end such as Hunter Henry or Jeremy Sprinkle, that would be possible, but I see O’Grady, Patton and Austin Cantrell likely dividing up the yards as they did last season.
Scottie Bordelon: I'll say true, and I think O'Grady is the guy. I watched him play a few times in high school and he's always had great hands. He rarely drops passes, so that in itself gives him an edge.
Austin Cantrell had a specific fit in Bret Bielema’s scheme. How can he be best used this season?
Tom Murphy: My take is that when Chad Morris references being a two-back scheme, that lead blocker back is a Cantrell-like body. His pass catching numbers might hold steady or drop a bit, but as for movable H-back types, Cantrell's the man.
Dudley Dawson: Same way. As a blocker and someone who can line up a couple of places and catch passes.
Bob Holt: Cantrell’s best attribute is his blocking, but he’s shown the ability to catch passes when called upon, so I see him fitting into a dual role.
Scottie Bordelon: I think his role is going to be more as a run-blocker in goalline situations and short yardage. I don't see him getting a lot of targets. From what I've seen, I just don't believe that's his strong suit. He's the physical, hard-nosed (and all of those cliches) type of guy who can free up backs in the running game and protect the quarterback.
Over/Under 25 catches for Cheyenne O’Grady.
Tom Murphy: Over – 28.
Dudley Dawson: Over. Easily.
Bob Holt: I’d say over. He had 21 catches last season and should be in line to get a few more with the Razorbacks running a hurry-up offense.
Scottie Bordelon: I'll go over as well. Like I mentioned earlier, he doesn't drop many passes. If the ball is in his general vicinity and catchable, he'll bring it in. That'll be key, I think, in the red zone.
Can a player in this position group garner all-league recognition by season’s end?
Tom Murphy: I'm going to say this is unlikely, unless one of the tight ends becomes one of the top 2-3 targets on the team.
Dudley Dawson: As you can tell, I'm very high on young Mr. O'Grady. I think he has a legit chance to make one of the 3 all-league teams at the end of the season. It would help him if Arkansas could win a few more games than expected.
Bob Holt: I don’t see that happening. Arkansas has some good tight ends, I believe, but I don’t think one of them is going to put up the type of numbers to earn All-SEC recognition.
Scottie Bordelon: Ultimately, I don't believe it will happen. However, the players I talked to this summer were really high on O'Grady. They think he has all the makeup to be a Mackey Award candidate. O'Grady has the best shot at landing on an all-SEC team, but it's a no from me.
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