At first glance, Chris Bounds is the tight end that is least likely to end up on this list. Darrion Jones, the junior college transfer, is a giant athlete and the best receiver of the bunch. Jared Poplawski is full of potential and has added tons of upper-body weight to his frame after tearing his ACL. Both Jones and Poplawski are more intriguing physically and more natural receivers.
But I ride for Chris Bounds. His frame isn’t as big, his legs aren’t as fast, and his talent isn’t as lauded. But damn if he isn’t the starter. He’s just so solid. As a blocker, he’s a best of the bunch, but don’t underestimate his catching. No, he won’t outrun any safeties or out-jump any DBs, but he gets open and gets yards.
The 20 second stretch on this highlight video from 1:40 to 2:00 shows exactly why he’s so valuable. Bounds, especially when he lines up in line, gives no hints to the defense. The fact that he can block and catch means he fits with any personnel group or play. He makes play action more convincing and deadly if they sell out for the run. Jones and Poplawksi can make defenders pay heavily for leaving them open, but Bounds makes the defense pay even when he doesn’t get the ball.
The reason that he isn’t higher on this list is twofold. As mentioned previously, there is an upper bound (heh) on his talent. He won’t turn into Gronkowski overnight. He is serviceable in the passing game, and above average in the short passing game, but you can’t build a gameplan around his hands. The other reason is the fact that CU has ignored the receiving tight end over the last five years. New offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini has already mentioned that he wants to use the tight end more heavily this year, but going from four catches to eight catches would count as more heavily. With the depth of WR talent this year and the inreased emphasis on hurry-up offense, there will be long stretches or maybe entire games where the TE doesn’t see the ball. Which is fine, generally, but it does affect Bounds’ importance to the team.
Overall, Bounds doesn’t subtract anything that the offense can do and is a benefit to the running game. He can catch and is a great short-yardage weapon. You know exactly what you can get from Bounds, which is a huge positive. No, he’s not a game-breaker at tight end, but when you need five yards by ground or by air, he can help you get there.