Training Camp on the Bubble: Cole Wick

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The University of the Incarnate Word is a Roman Catholic college located in San Antonio Texas. Eleven thousand students attend UIW, and one of their alumni is Lions’ rookie tight end Cole Wick. Wick is a hulking six feet six inches, 255lbs and even as an undrafted free agent, he will have his fair shot to make the 53 man roster come final cuts.

Tight end is arguably the Lion’s thinnest position. We all know the story with Ebron. He’ll never be worth the 10th overall pick, but his third year will decide whether he’s a bust or a consistent performer in the offense. Pettigrew has two years left on his deal, and is the only proven blocking tight end on the team. However, after tearing his ACL in a late-season game in St. Louis (a playing surface responsible for many injuries) he may open camp on the PUP list and his status for the early part of the season is unknown. With Tim Wright waived in May due to a torn ACL, there is an opportunity for the taking at tight end.

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After impressing in OTA’s, Wick has emerged as the favorite going into training camp to win the third tight end spot. Trying to steal that from him will be eight year vet Matthew Mulligan and undrafted free agents Ben McCord and Adam Fuehne. Orson Charles will also be at camp, but after being out of the league in 2015 he has the longest odds to make the team out of the group. Mulligan will bring experience and blocking prowess; Fuehne much like Wick is a physical specimen at six feet seven inches, 255lbs but struggles with blocking; McCord, who caught plenty of passes his senior year including an 83 yard touchdown (seen here at :22), was signed as a UDFA out of Central Michigan.

SO WHY WICK?

When rookies came to OTA’s, he surprised coaches with his pass catching ability and toughness. While evaluations of tackle football players can be hard to pin-point while they jog around in gym shorts, it’s impressive that Wick got the recognition he did playing a position where a lot of contact is involved.

Former Miami head coach Al Golden is the Lions’ tight ends coach this year, and he is the guy Wick has to win over in order to make the team. Back in June, Golden referenced that Wick’s inexperience will be the hurdle he has to get over to win the job.

“When he shows up in July that’s got to be practice 16, it can’t be practice one” Golden said.

I expect Mulligan to be Wick’s main competition during training camp. Who the Lions go with will depend largely on Pettigrew’s progress with the ACL and Wick’s blocking ability against NFL defensive ends during the preseason. If the UIW product improves day by day and doesn’t seem overwhelmed by the NFL level of play he will at least make the practice squad. The battle for the 53 man roster begins July 28th, Wick will be a player in the hunt for a ticket.

Watch Wick’s senior highlights here.

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