Two smart people have said things that will make this position very interesting to watch come April. One, the fact that the NFL is a copycat league. If you notice one thing? Dustin Keller types are now in vogue. Pass catching is greater than than blocking.
H is greater than Y. But is it really a good thing? Brandon Pettigrew would have you believe otherwise. Mike Lombardi would have you believe otherwise. But you're not here for them? You're there for me.
1. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss
(6'5" 242, 4.56)
What you have here is the man voted most likely to be compared to Dustin Keller. He's a man with a timed combine speed of 4.56, he's a man with excellent hands. Quite frankly? He is going to be the first tight end taken. And unlike Keller, he can block a little too.
His weaknesses are minimal. He could use some polish on his route-running, and his blocking is mostly of the wall nature. But that being said? The former will get better with experience. And the latter? He does have a frame that can fill out.
Now, he's not going to be a ready-made member of a stud stable in the passing game. But he can be the short route guy and the dude who can run the seams like a stud. There's a chance that he can grow into something great. But he can be a pass-catching weapon straight away.
2. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State
(6'6" 260 4.85)
Here's a man who reminds me so much of Bubba Franks it's not even funny. His kung-fu strength is in his power game. His pass-catching game is based on his ability to box out and get the short yardage safety vale goal line stuff. But his main strength? His ability to be a smaller offensive lineman.
But in a world of certain digitality? His game is sort of analog. He will not threaten any sort of the seam. But you know what else? He really can't break a tackle either. But if you can throw it to him? He will get it.
You may not be happy if your team drafts Brandon Pettigrew. But you shouldn't be up in arms. He's an excellent tight end, and he will be able to give his team a solid 7-8 year career
3. Jared Cook, South Carolina
(6'5" 242 4.50)
If Pettigrew is the next Bubba Franks? Then there's a definite possibility that Cook is the next Vernon Davis. He is an overgrown wide receiver whose strength is in his athleticism. His 40-time is faster than Nelson's. He put up one more rep on the bench press than Pettigrew. And he does have the hands to take advantage of his 41" vertical.
But as Mike Singletary wanted to take a helmet upside Davis' head? Someone just might want to do the same to Cook. He is a very bad blocker. And he also has seen the bench for dogging it against Clemson in 2008. And for a man that fast? He has no improvisational skill. But that vision thing is something that can be trained.
Everybody in the NFL wants a player that they can dream on. Someone with the athleticism of an all-pro who just needs a little bit of training. You hit the pick, and it's just like hitting the lottery. But here's the deal. It's just like hitting a two-outer in hold 'em. You're happy it happened, but 95% of the time it doesn't.
4. James Casey, Rice
(6'4" 246 4.71)
James Casey's best comparison is to a swiss army knife. You have someone who has played seven positions in one game. Someone who has a professional baseball worthy throwing arm. And he actually had a season on the Rice Track team. But as a tight end?
He was someone who made Jarrett Dillard that much better as the Number 2 option with Rice. Because as a receiver, he has great hands, and out of all the tight ends? His is the best at being elusive in terms of making you miss. And as the Wildcat stays in vogue? James Casey has that much more that he can bring to the table.
That being said? He is a 24 year old with two years of college experience. It does say something for his upside, but he is switching offensive schemes as well as needs to learn how to block in a more professional fashion.
But if you're a patient man? Dallas Clark upside resides here.
5. Chase Coffman, Missouri
(6'6" 252 4.83e)
His hands are the best in the draft. He has an ability to high angle and focus. He is a great route runner and he has an ability to get separation and find seams in the zone to get open. He's a hard worker and can find a way to play through pain.
But the reason why he's down the list? Simple. He's tall, but he's not football strong. He is not currently functional in blocking aspects of the game. And as I write this? He doesn't have a 40 time listed.
Now, Coffman may not have the upside of a James Casey or a Jared Cook. But you know what? He has great bloodlines and good football skills. His game reminds me of another alliterative tight end.
Protip: Chase Coffman cannot wear the hotpants.
And let's be honest. There is still plenty of value in Day 2. Cornelius Ingram, Travis Beckum. In fact?
I just might make a tight end sleeper post.