A Bratkowski offense historically doesn't incorporate the Tight End in the passing game; should the Bengals draft a Tight End in the first round anyway?

Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski spent four seasons (1995-1998) with Seattle as the Seahawks' offensive coordinator. In three of those four seasons, Bratkowski's scoring offense ranked inside the top-ten -- including 1997 when Warren Moon led a passing offense that ranked first in the NFL.

As I was examining Bob Bratkowski's career as an offensive coordinator, I was interested in something: what tight end was the most productive? How productive have tight ends been in general? Three times in a Bob Bratkowski offense has a tight end recorded more than 30 receptions. Three times in a Bob Bratkowski offense has a tight end recorded more than 300 yards receiving. Seattle's Christian Fauria had the most productive season as a tight end in 1998, recording 37 receptions and 377 yards receiving. Reggie Kelly's 31 receptions in 2008 is the only time a Bengals tight end recorded 30 receptions or more in a season during Bratkowski's entire reign as the Bengals offensive coordinator. Of the four most productive tight ends in a Bob Bratkowski NFL offense, Matt Schobel's stint was the most productive, scoring nine times with a 22.5-reception-per-season average.

tight ends Seasons Receptions Yards TDs
Matt Schobel 4 22.5 234.5 9
Carlestar Crumpler* 4 21.5 231.25 3
Christian Fauria* 4 20.5 220.5 4
Reggie Kelly 6 19.2 154.7 3
* Most productive tight ends with Bratkowski as the offensive coordinator in Seattle.

With Bratkowski's history of tight end usage in the past, does it make sense for the Bengals to address tight end with their first pick in the NFL Draft? Or even their first three picks? It goes without saying that the Bengals do need someone. Ideally, someone that can block and that's smart enough to break into a hot route, knowing where the first down marker is when quarterback Carson Palmer needs to get rid of the football on third down. It would also be nice if the Bengals used the tight end to open up lanes for guys like Andre Caldwell to thrive underneath. Yes, it would be nice if the Bengals used a tight end to run the seam and pick up over ten yards on a beautifully crafted over-the-shoulder reception. These things are glorious. These things are what the Bengals were used to doing back in the glory days with guys like Dan Ross, Bob Trumpy and Rodney Holman.

Historically speaking, that's not the reality in a Bob Bratkowski offense. Tight ends are blockers. Tight ends go into routes every once in a while, but rarely find themselves in a position to make a play. One could make the argument that Bratkowski just hasn't had a tight end talented enough to incorporate into the passing offense. And that could be true. But I also find it interesting that in the 13 seasons that Bratkowski has been an NFL offensive coordinator, neither the Seahawks or the Bengals made it a point to acquire someone better.

Taking into consideration that historical reality applies here more than the fantasy of acquiring a super-stud tight end being the team's third leading receiver, is it worth it for the Bengals to draft a tight end in the early rounds only not to use him as a receiving tight end in a Bob Bratkowski offense?

tight end production as the Seahawks offensive coordinator.

Season tight end Receptions Yards TDs
1995 Carlester Crumpler 23 254 1
  Christian Fauria 17 181 1
1996 Carlester Crumpler 26 258 0
  Christian Fauria 18 214 1
  Ronnie Williams 5 25 1
1997 Carlester Crumpler 31 361 1
  Christian Fauria 10 110 0
  Deems May 2 21 0
1998 Christian Fauria 37 377 2
  Carlester Crumpler 6 52 1
  Deems May 3 7 1

tight end production as the Bengals offensive coordinator.

Season tight end Receptions Yards TDs
2001 Tony McGee 14 148 1
  Marco Battaglia 13 118 0
  Kirk McMullen 2 15 0
2002 Matt Schobel 27 212 2
  Tony Stewart 1 6 0
2003 Matt Schobel 24 332 2
  Tony Stewart 21 212 0
  Reggie Kelly 13 81 1
2004 Matt Schobel 21 201 4
  Reggie Kelly 15 85 0
  Tony Stewart 10 48 1
2005 Matt Schobel 18 193 1
  Reggie Kelly 15 90 1
  Tony Stewart 4 26 0
2006 Reggie Kelly 21 254 1
  Tony Stewart 14 120 1
2007 Reggie Kelly 20 211 0
  Daniel Coats 12 122 0
2008 Reggie Kelly 31 207 0
  Ben Utecht 16 123 0
  Daniel Coats 2 19 0
  Nate Lawrie 2 11 0
2009 J.P. Foschi 27 260 2
  Daniel Coats 16 150 0
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