Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - TEs

Previous Entries: QBs, RBs, FBs, WRs

The fifth entry in my NFL draft averages and predictions feature focuses on the hybrid receiver/blocker known as the tight end. TEs are sometimes seen as security blankets for young and inexperienced QBs but, in reality, they are much more. Because of their diverse skill set, TEs can be game changers (see Gonzlez, Tony or Gates, Antonio). They have the speed and hands to burn LBs and safeties on deep balls and the size and strength to drive DEs off the ball, allowing RBs big gains. A strong TE is a huge boost to a high powered offense.

Tight ends have been slowly garnering more and more attention from scouts, or so it seems, since the breakthrough performance by Antonio Gates in 2005. Tony Gonzalez had already been a mainstay but there really wasn't much competition for best TE. Now it seems that there more than a handful of guys that could snatch that title each year. Gonzalez, Gates, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Chris Cooley, Kellen Winslow, and Owen Daniels all are premiere players in the league. Recently Jeremy Shockey, Todd Heap, and Alge Crumpler have taken a step back but each has the skills to explode at any given time. There are plenty more solid players at the position too.

The 2009 class has a slew of players that are expected to at least become one of the solid, serviceable TEs such as Bo Scaife or Anthony Fasano. However there are a select few that could be destined for greatness. Scouts think they have the talent to make an immediate impact in the pros.

What is the outlook for the position on April 25 and 26? Let's look at the statistics from the past 10 drafts (1999 through 2008).

Draft trends for TEs (1999-2008).

We usually see two TEs taken per round, overall. The position is generally not top heavy and is hard to distinguish who truly is the best. Some drafts have that perceived player, like Vernon Davis in 2006, but others not so much (like 1999). As few as 10 TEs (2005) and as many 23 (2002) were selected. That sets our "will be picked" and "borderline" categories. The average of 15 is the cutoff for "should be picked".

Will Be Picked

Jared Cook, South Carolina

Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State

Shawn Nelson, Southern Mississippi

James Casey, Rice

Chase Coffman, Missouri

Travis Beckum, Wisconsin

Cornelius Ingram, Florida

Cameron Morrah, California

Anthony Hill, North Carolina State

Jared Bronson, Central Washington

Should Be Picked

John Phillips, Virginia

Dan Gronkowski, Maryland

Bear Pascoe, Fresno State

Darius Hill, Ball State

Ryan Purvis, Boston College


Richard Quinn, North Carolina

Davon Drew, East Carolina

Kory Sperry, Colorado State

Zach Miller, Nebraska-Omaha

Branden Ledbetter, Western Michigan

Kevin Brock, Rutgers

Rob Myers, Utah State

Robbie Agnone, Delaware


Brandon Myers, Iowa

Andrew Davie, Arkansas

Devin Frischknecht, Washington State

Nick Walker, Alabama

MY PREDICTION: Despite Brandon Pettigrew's name being tossed around as the best TE available, based on scouting services and front office rumblings it seems that teams debate who is the best in this class. Pettigrew and Jared Cook seem to have distanced themselves as the top two but there is no guarantee that they make the first round. I think one of them will but don't be surprised if it is Cook and not Pettigrew. I think that, overall, this is a good class that should make the average. I predict 15 TEs from the list will be taken.

UP NEXT: We start the trenches with the OTs, a position that becomes more important each year it seems. It rates right up their with QBs. What does the last 10 years say about tackles? Find out on Sunday. OGs will also be chronicled that day.

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