THE OUTLOOK: I was tempted to keep this write up short and sweet by simply typing up “Rob Gronkowski & Jimmy Graham” and leaving it at that. But you are probably looking for a bit more information than that. Those two stand in a league of their own and once you get past the top five, you’re looking at an extremely shallow pool of talent at the tight end position. Graham and Gronkowski are the game changers at their position – players you can depend on to possibly win their head to head matchups week in and week out. After those two, things get a bit dicey. The lack of depth at tight end will see Gronkowski and Graham get drafted at some point in the first two rounds. Personally, I would not be comfortable with a tight end being one of my first two picks. You will likely cost yourself a shot at a higher rated running back and/wide receiver prospect. However, waiting too long to scoop up your tight end could cost you dearly.
- Jason Witten, written up as a bust in the initial July posting, suffered a lacerated spleen in a preseason matchup with the Oakland Raiders. Whether or not he’ll be available come week one is up in the air. I’d avoid him regardless
- Kyle Rudolph has ridden a wave of great training camp press to a top 10 ranking. It’s really a factor of him having tremendous-upside-potential coupled with the dearth of options at the position
- Greg Olsen = High Undervalued *shhh*
- Lost in all of the hoopla of Andrew Luck’s preseason performance was the fact that he seemed to develop a better connection with Dwayne Allen and than with college teammate, Coby Fleener. I hate the comparison, but since every one is doing it – Allen serves as the Hernandez to Fleener’s Gronk in the Colts’ version of the two tight end offense, only neither one is anywhere near as talented as their Patriots counterparts. Allen may be worth a late round flier
*lists created with Four-Downs.com Ranking Editor*
- Fred Davis, Washington Redskins (ADP: 12 Team – 9.02; 14 Team – 7.13) – Fred Davis will be playing the 2012 season under the franchise tag, which makes his performance this year extremely vital to his future. Davis showed signs of being a capable TE1 on his way to a top ten finish at tight end in 2011. With Robert Griffin III heading up a pass heavy offensive attack, don’t be surprised if Davis makes a move up in tight end rankings this season.
- Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 12 Team – Undrafted; 14 Team – 11.07) – You’re probably wondering how the top tight end taken in the 2012 Draft could be viewed as a potential “sleeper”. You shouldn’t do yourself a disservice by discounting the connection Fleener and Colts QB Andrew Luck share. They’ve spent years in college developing as a lethal combo. A top ten finish at the tight end position is not out of the question for Fleener.
- Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 12 Team – 8.02; 14 Team – 7.06) – Of all the tight ends ranked with the top ten, Jason Witten may carry the biggest red flags. Witten showed signs of slowing down last season and on top of that, he’ll be competing for targets with both Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. The emergence of running back DeMarco Murray could lessen the targets for everyone in the passing attack as well. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Witten will be the one most negatively affected by this development.
- Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 12 Team – 9.07; 14 Team – 8.02) – This ride has got to come to an end sooner rather than later, right? Tony Gonzalez is entering his 16th season in the league ranked as a top ten tight end. With new threats emerging within the Falcons passing game (Julio Jones, Harry Douglas), there may not be enough targets to go around for the aging tight end to justify his ranking. His average draft position should probably be lower as well. I’m assuming those who are snatching him up in the eighth round are those fantasy players who are working off of his reputation. Gonzalez cannot continue to defy Father Time. Look for him to come crashing back down to earth some time soon.