Have the LA Rams abandoned their blocking TE role?

Darrell Henderson, Johnny Mundt
Darrell Henderson, Johnny Mundt / Lindsey Wasson/GettyImages
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Oh Johnny Mundt, where for art thou? Since the LA Rams lost their blocking tight end to injury in the midst of their 2021 NFL season on their way to a Super Bowl LVI victory, the Rams' offense has seemed to have evolved past the need for that type of player in their offense. He subsequently signed on with the Minnesota Vikings, a minor niche player signing that seems to have left a gaping hole in the Rams' offense.

It is not as though the Rams did not try to retain Mundt. Per some reports, the LA Rams did make a contract offer to Mundt. It's just that the Minnesota Vikings made a better offer. It was an understandable consequence after the Rams lost OC Kevin O'Connell to become the Minnesota Vikings head coach, who in turn hired away the Rams TE coach Wes Phillips to become the Vikings offensive coordinator.

At one point, there was hope for the Rams to not only renew their blocking tight end role but perhaps expand that role. After all, the LA Rams signed two tight ends after the 2022 NFL draft, tight end Jamal Pettigrew out of Liberty University, as well as fullback/tight end Roger Carter out of Georgia State University.

However, when the season started, it was wide receiver Ben Skowronek who found himself earmarked in a blocking tight end/fullback role in the Rams' offense. And he was effective enough in that duty that the Rams never looked back.

Has Hunter Long changed the Rams perspective?

When the LA Rams traded All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins, the team received a 2023 third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. Long was buried in the Miami Dolphins depth chart, but was a third-round selection of the Dolphins in the 2021 NFL Draft. The reason that he has not been focused on as a significant component of that draft is the fact that he has just one reception for eight yards for the Miami Dolphins.

When we did our initial assessment of Hunter Long in respect to his LA Rams potential, contributor Reese Evans saw more of a quartz crystal than a semi-precious gemstone. But Long is a tight end, is one of just 45 players on the LA Rams roster, and is almost certain to be a member of the Rams active roster through 2024.

We know that the LA Rams have been searching for a tight end to add to the roster, particularly since the Rams roster was whittled down to just Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing a solid 254 pounds, Long certainly has the size and power to fit the dual-purpose role on the Rams' offense of a blocking tight end. But can he block?

Tight end. player. NFL Draft Buzz. Boston College. Hunter Long. TE. 51. NFL Draft Profile

That was a knock against him in his 2021 NFL Draft profile, which described him as a pass-catching threat with soft hands, but weak in run-blocking schemes. In fact, he was described by one draft analyst as "blocking with folded arms like an old electric football game." While that is an entertaining description, that does not bode well for the LA Rams seeking a blocking tight end.

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The Rams seemed to be content with Ben Skowronek serving as a multi-purpose FB/TE/WR role in 2022. But if the goal is to jump start the LA Rams offense, then a blocking tight end should certaintly be added to the team's shopping list.