Despite the departure of Ben Utecht in free agency, it's shaping up to be a crowded camp at the tight end position. Tom Santi joins starter Dallas Clark, backups Bryan Fletcher and Gijon Robinson and new draft pick Jacob Tamme at the position for the Colts. Also, Mike Seidman probably won't be re-signed and long snapper Justin Snow are listed as tight ends for the Colts.
While Tamme is a proven receiver, Santi's numbers aren't quite as impressive — but he still had 36 catches for 418 yards and three touchdowns in 2007.
And he was consistent, catching 29 passes for 253 yards in 2006, 19 for 358 in 2005 and 13 for 155 in 2004.
Santi did have some nice performances at the NFL Combine, jumping 36 inches in the vertical jump, good for second overall. He was also third in the broad jump, fifth in the 20-yard shuttle and seventh in the three-cone drill.
He was also a terrific student at Virginia, which normally only enrolls terrific students.
At 6 feet, 5 inches, 255 pounds, Santi has about two inches and 20 pounds on Tamme, and is a solid blocker. He is not the type of player that stands out and he's not going to make the highlight reels, but plays with the of effort that could allow him to make the team.
Bill Polian said the departure of Utecht helped make the decision to draft Santi.
"Santi, we think, can fill the role that Utecht played for us," the Colts president told the NFL Network shortly after the pick. "So it's a question of bringing in new players where we lost valuable contributors and bulk it up for us. We wanted to solidify that tight end position and make sure we had the right people and weapons around Peyton [Manning]."
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