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2012 NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Tight Ends

March 31st, 2012 at 3:11 PM
By Hazem Kiswani

The New York Giants' biggest addition to date this off-season has been that of tight end Martellus Bennett, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys. Bennett has the skill set to be one of the league's top tight ends with his size, athleticism, ball skills, and ability as a blocker. Immaturity and playing behind Pro-Bowl tight end Jason Witten has limited his development, but Bennett has a chance to show the league that he can still play up to his immense potential on his one-year "prove it" deal with the G-Men.

That being said, Giants tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum are both expected to start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list after suffering ACL injuries at the end of the magical 2011 campaign. With the position still facing uncertainty, I expect the Giants to look into adding another tight end to the mix prior to the start of next season.

Looking at the 2012 tight end draft class, you certainly don't have a Jimmy Graham type prospect jumping out at you, and while it is a bit of a shallow class, there are certainly a handful of guys with the physical tools to be a significant addition to an NFL offense and an NFL passing game. 

Today at Giants 101, we break down some of the tight ends highlighting the 2012 group in the NFL draft

ELITE 

-None-

FIRST TIER 

1. TE Coby Fleener - Stamford – 6'6 247 lbs 

Andrew Luck's top red zone target in 2011 and for good reason. Fleener has a very dangerous combination of length and athleticism, and shows the hands and body control to grab the football in traffic for his quarterback. Fleener has impressive acceleration for a player his size and while he isn't a huge threat to hurt NFL defenses over the top and down the sideline, Fleener is deceptive and capable of making big plays down the seam if defenses don't respect his speed. Excellent route runner who knows how to manipulate defenders. Gives effort as a blocker but needs work in his technique to be effective at the next level. Won't do a ton of damage after the catch but a huge matchup problem in the red zone. Tough to see him not having success in the National Football League. 

Value: Late First Round Pick

2. TE Orson Charles – Georgia – 6'2 251 lbs

He may be undersized, but boy oh boy does Orson Charles have the physical tools and physical, tough approach to the game to be a big time playmaker at the NFL level. Has the speed to beat NFL linebackers and safeties over the top, but also the explosive strength to run over defensive backs after the catch. Outstanding effort as a blocker, strong, and plays through the whistle. Strong hands to snatch the ball out of the air, but does have slip-ups in concentration at times and will drop catchable balls. His size is the biggest concern, but if Charles lands with a team that can find a role for him and create mismatches with his skill set, he has the upside to be a true gamebreaker in the NFL

Value: Early Second Round Pick

3. TE Dwayne Allen – Clemson – 6'3 255 lbs 

One of the "safer" picks in this draft, Allen is a very committed, hard-working prospect who did a lot of different things for the Clemson offense in his collegiate career. Not a game-breaking type tight end, but make no mistake – Allen will consistently contribute to the passing game with his excellent hands and clean route running. Allen has shown the ability to consistently run with power and toughness after the catch and turn the underneath throw into considerable yardage. Not a dominant blocker and may never be, but has good athleticism and will make blocks in the open field. 

Value: Early Second Round Pick

SECOND TIER 

4. TE Ladarius Green – La.-Lafayette – 6'6 238 lbs 

Will certainly need to bulk up and get stronger at the NFL level to be on the field consistently and bring enough to the blocking game to be trusted by NFL coaches, but Green has the height and receiving skills to be a valuable addition to the passing game at the next level. Very good hands and will make plays in traffic. Good athleticism and has the long arms and height to snatch the football over defensive backs in the air. Level of competition is a concern and the jump to the NFL game will be a big one, but has the work ethic and approach to transfer his physical ability to the NFL game. 

Value: Third Round Pick 

BEST OF THE REST 

5. Michael Egnew – Missouri – 6'5 252 lbs 

6. James Hanna – Oklahoma – 6'4 252 lbs 

7. Brian Linthicum - Michigan St. – 6'5 245 lbs 

8. Deangelo Peterson – LSU – 6'3 243 lbs 

9. Rhett Ellison – USC – 6'5 251 lbs 

10. Kevin Koger – Michigan – 6'4 258 lbs 

Also…

Tags: Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL, NFL Draft

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28 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Tight Ends”

  1.  Hazem Kiswani says:

    Getting back to a couple of comments from the last positional breakdown:

    Kujo – Thanks man, I appreciate that. I’m glad you enjoy them. I wanted to get these out a bit earlier but I’ve been really low on time as of late and I like to take my time grading.

    Samardzija – I hate typing that btw. I’d much rather just call you Kris. Going back to the RBs, how do you feel about Wilson and Martin? I went back and forth on that one. I almost put Martin #2 because the grades were so close and he’s a more polished back, but the amount of wear and tear Boise put on him and the immense upside I saw with Wilson was the difference for me. For a guy with his speed and homerun ability, Wilson runs damn hard and finishes.

  2.  Krow says:

    Which of the second tier TEs is the best blocker? That’s the guy we’ll take late in the draft.

    •  Luv2Salsa says:

      They all seem kind of small. The Giants TE’s get the cr@p beat out of them.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I think we ha a group of blockers already, All of our TEs are huge. I think drafting a pass catcher after signing Bennett is actually more likely.

  3.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    Demo – yes I liked the idea of the trading for Steward. But mind you Tolbert just recently signed so this is very recent talk. I was against signing the law firm and all other free agent RBs. I like Steward because I think he’s dynamic. But I have been for drafting a RB higher than “usual” the whole time, meaning 2-3 round area. I think a 4th for Steward is good value because he’s better and more talented than the players likely available. A 4th round pick is no guarantee so if at worse we got Steward for one year for a 4th which I don’t think would have been a bad move.

    The issue as a we discussed yesterday is that to me we have very little at RB even before this Brown news. While we need a RB that could be a 1A I think we also just need more talent. So I would take a late would flyer on a prospect like Brown from KState or Scott from S Fla. I have similar sentiments several times before your return.

    •  kujo says:

      You can’t expect someone like Demo to appreciate a nuanced argument like that. All he’s going to see is “Me want RB” and then excrete one of his chest thumping harangues. Granted, I happen to have agreed him his point of view on this subject, and felt that part that parting with a mid round pick for pretty much ANY player–especially a running back who, though very good, is still a fungible commodity, as evidenced by the fact that his team shelled out big bucks to Deangelo and Tolbert instead of him.

      Nevertheless, it’s best to just drop it and let Demo jump around like a baboon after his “victory.” There was never a chance we were going to trade for Stewart, or sign Tolbert or BJGE, no matter how much sense you felt it made.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        I actually I agree with the not trading for a RB idea. For me Steward was just a exception to the rule. I see a lot of Michael Turner in him. But I don’t think it’s obvious so I understand other disagreeing.

        •  Chad Eldred says:

          I like Stewart as well and don’t think that parting with a mid-round pick for him is a bad idea. Granted, it’s largely a pipe dream since Carolina won’t part with him for one, but stranger things have happened so holding out hope is okay. Besides, it’s the off-season and there isn’t a lot to talk about. I understand the sentiment of others here that RB’s are largely interchangeable, but I wonder if that sentiment isn’t going too far at some point. Whether it is Stewart or another veteran with low mileage, I wouldn’t mind someone being brought in. Even though I had my gripes about him we lost a lot of experience with Jacobs and a guy who was relatively durable. We are left with Bradshaw, whose wheels are aging prematurely, and a bunch of guys that would struggle to make a roster anywhere else. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for improving one of the poorest Giant rushing attacks I have seen in my lifetime.

          •  GOAT56 says:

            With Goodsen being traded, trading Steward isn’t need ha it was prior. Thus what Carolina wants will be less negotable. I’m sure ay team offering a 2 could still get him and maybe a 3 but a 4 wont work which puts us out the picture. I alsways knew that it was unlikely and now it doesn’t even seem like a remote posibility. Though I like Steward, a 3 is too much.

            I don’t think you can make any judgement about not having improved the running game until after the draft. I think the running game was decent the 8 games. Not to the level we are acustom to but good enough with a great QB and passing game. We still want better and thus far losing Jacobs and Brown the first 4 games we are not better. But that can change big time from what we do in the draft.

            •  Chad Eldred says:

              I don’t pretend to make a judgement now. I’m just hoping that we can improve that area, I don’t care about the mechanism for doing it. However, at the moment we don’t have much to be confident about at the RB position.

  4.  kujo says:

    Adam Nissly from UCF

    Look him up. Perfect TE for us.

  5.  Luv2Salsa says:

    I’ll throw this out for others to ponder. Was the H-back look merely a fleeting strategy in an effort to use Beckum? (See: match-up nightmare; bust) If not, then who might fill that role in 2012? Are they committed to the power running game? If so, who might be a backup fullback? (I don’t think Pascoe is signed yet.) Or, will the Giants move away from the 2-back set and put another receiver in the formation?

    •  Krow says:

      My own opinion is that H-back doesn’t fit our offense for some reason. Either that or Gilbride just isn’t inclined to use one. We really didn’t have problems scoring so it’s not a huge issue. But this is why I can’t see us doubling down on it by drafting a ‘catch first’ TE.

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    Excellent write-up Haz.

    I am intrigued by Ellison. I think he played fullback his senior year, which makes him a “Giants kind of guy”, a player who may be a bit of a plodder but who gets the job done and can play either of the “blocking positions” in the Giants’ offense, much as Bear Pascoe does now. The Giants love flexibility in their players. I’d keep my eyes on this kid as a possible 5th round or 6th round pick.

  7.  GOAT56 says:

    The TE I would like more feedback on is Kevin Kroger. I have mentioed him a few times and really Haz’s analyze is about th highest I have seen him. As a non Michigan watching a few of their games he caught my attention. I thin he’s beging under value due to heir offense. I think all around starting TE talents of a Boss level and he’s a littl bigger. I know he’s a 5th round or later type pick but he intrigues me.

  8.  GOAT56 says:

    WR draft question – is Wright big enough to play on the outside in our 3 WR sets? It seems like a decent chance due to his size and lack of blazing fast 40s he could fall to us. I don’t question his talent but I do wonder if he’s just more polished Jernigan. Or does he project more like a slightly shorter MM?

    •  fanfor55years says:

      I think you’re seriously underestimating Jernigan. Obviously he did very little his rookie season, but he was incredibly productive in college against a number of NFL-quality defensive backs and Reese and Ross love the kid. They may have been wrong on a few choices (I think they were really surprised and disappointed by both Sintim and Kehl, and may be headed in the same direction with Beckum and Barden) but usually when they feel really good about a relatively early pick they prove right.

      I like Wright, and I think it makes sense to draft a WR, but given that we know that Cruz can play the slot brilliantly and that Jernigan is really a slot receiver, if the Giants go for a wide receiver in the draft I’m assuming they go for a guy they think can easily play outside.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        I think you’re misunderstanding me. I like Jernigan, I liked him coming out and was thrilled we drafted him. His rookie year did nothing to lower my long term expectations of him except maybe as a PR.

        The reason I asked the question is that in replacng MM to me the best way would be someone to play on the outside. Like you stated Jernigan is likely a slot WR so I just wonder if Wright is that guy that can play the outside? Or is he mearly duplicating Jernigans talents?

        For these reason I expect us to draft Hill if available I just wonder if Wright is available do we pass because he doesn’t fit what we need.

        •  fanfor55years says:

          My view is that given Cruz’ ability to play outside and in the slot, combined with Jernigan’s almost certain future in the slot, we’re already two-deep there. So I, too, think the bigger receiver is the better choice so we get another outside guy. I think Hill would be a terrific choice.

          As you can see below, I would happily take Fleener too. And I suspect at least one of those two, if not both, are there for the taking at #32.

          My reaction to what you wrote was your “more polished Jernigan” when you described Wright. I’m not so sure that’s true. But my view is that rather than take Wright the Giants would be better off going in another direction. They do not need another slot receiver, and certainly shouldn’t take one with their first pick.

          •  GOAT56 says:

            I was more a credit to Wright. Plus Jerigan did a little of everything at Troy like Harvin did. So he just didn’t play as much pure WR as Wright.

  9.  Samardzija says:

    Haz. Lol just Call me kris then. Ill know its me. I agree completely on wilson vs Martin. Exactly ny thoughts as well. Also like the TE rankings. Id swap Orson and Allen though

  10.  fanfor55years says:

    My final thought on this is that Fleener comes pretty close to an “elite” ranking. He may not quite be there, but he’s close. He has the frame to gain another 15 pounds and the intelligence to pick up blocking techniques in the NFL under a good position coach. I think he should have a great career and I’d probably rank him as First Tier and the next two as 1-A.

    If Fleener drops to #32 I would not be at all unhappy if Reese grabs him. He would add a great deal of dynamism to the offense for the rest of Eli’s career. He would be the best Giants TE since Bavaro (someone earlier implied that Shockey was the best they’ve had, which is utter nonsense) and would certainly allow the Giants to do perfectly well with just a “good” #3 receiver rather than a top one, which might be the best approach under the salary cap. You cannot keep three top wide receivers together. But you just might be able to keep two of them and a very good tight end on the same team.

    A future of Nicks and Cruz outside, Jernigan in the slot, and Fleener at TE would be an awfully potent combination. So yeah, including future cap perspective in my decision, if I were Reese I would grab him if he’s still available at #32 (as an alternative to a WR in Round 1 or 2).

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I agree. I think WR is a deep group and only a talent like Hill you can’t find in the 2nd or 3rd round. I think we have not used TE as much the last few years because we lacked talent and our WRs are very talented.

      I begining to think that we will draft a TE in the first 2 rounds which would mean any of the top 3 TEs. We could then use 2 TEs as our base set. I think with 2 TEs that can catch and block it would improve our running game. Hynoski is a nice player but a 2nd TE with the skills of any of the first 3 TEs is a huge upgade in the passing game from a base set.

      •  Luv2Salsa says:

        But the caveat is you still need to be able to run the ball from that set. 150 pound tight ends used at the point of attack tend to get banged up. I like my high draft choices to have long productive careers

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