Can Lansford Watson claim the starting TE spot? (Greg Fiume)
Ever since Ralph Friedgen's first, mythic (okay, not mythic, but still pretty awesome) season at Maryland, if there's been one position you've never had to worry about on the offensive side of the ball, it's been TE (defensively, it has to be ILB). Since Fridge's inaugural 2001 season, Maryland has had Jeff Dugan, Vernon Davis, Joey Haynos, and Dan Gronkowski -
all were draft picks (sorry, Haynos was an UDFA), and the first three have found playing time in the NFL. I expect that trend to continue this year - the question is, who takes the crown?
Lansford Watson: Watson was a 5 star WR recruit in HS (on a random note, he attended Lincoln HS in Brookyln - yep, Lance Stephenson's school), but was converted to TE due to his size. With his WR background, he's a pass-catching specialist with great size, speed, and hands. He's not an athletic freak like Vernon Davis was, but more of a traditional pass-catching TE. He definitely has the potential to be better than Haynos and Dugan, simply due to his impact in the passing game. Personally, I'd like to see him start. He does need to work on his blocking, as it's not up to Tommy Galt's level, but it's still servicable.
Tommy Galt: The son of Maryland's strength and conditioning coach, Dwight Galt, (and twin of Maryland DE Deege Galt) Tommy is an ultra-strong blocking-specialist. His clean record is second only to Vernon Davis for all Terps ever - that's how strong he is. While he's not at Lansford's level in the passing game, he has solid hands and is not a liability. He won't drop many open passes, which is what you want in a TE. In the end, he's a safer bet than Watson, but doesn't have as high of a possible impact. He's tied with Lansford on the depth chart right now, and I'd expect it to stay that way for awhile. They should both see playing time, as Maryland uses a decent amount of two TE sets.
Matt Furstenburg: Shockingly not redshirted last year (he later earned his RS back after a medical issue), the true freshman Furstenburg didn't see much playing at all, at first due to, well, not being good enough, then due to injury. That said, he's clearly a favorite of the coaching staff, meaning he's a legitimate threat to see the field this year. Like Watson, he's a receiving TE, but not in the same vein as Watson. He's more of an H-Back than a true TE, and as such, is very comfortable with the ball in his hands. He gets the ball, and then wreaks havoc. Like Watson, he needs to improve blocking, but he'll see his share of time.
Prediction: Maryland runs a lot of 2-TE sets, so all three will see playing time. My heart tells me Watson, because his receiving ability excites me, but my head tells me Galt - with as young as the offensive line is this year, they'll need the help blocking. Furstenburg will probably be stuck into the third slot, coming in when an H-Back is needed or when Galt/Watson need a rest.