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Should The Atlanta Falcons Draft A Tight End?

My initial reaction is no. Many of you will share that sentiment. I wouldn't be writing this post, however, if some of you weren't thinking yes.

The basic question here is, do the Falcons need a tight end in 2010? The answer is obviously no. But expand that question a little bit, to include 2011 and beyond, add a little paprika, and you've got yourself a discussion. A few of you ranked this as a significant offensive need going forward, so let's take a look at why that might be.

First, examine who we have on the roster. There's Tony Gonzalez, a no-brainer Hall of Famer who will play at least next season and probably one or two after that. He sort of negates the need for a top-flight tight end during that time span. Behind him is Justin Peelle, who is a handful of years younger and brings some pass-catching ability to the table, but is no one's idea of a long-term starting option at tight end. Behind him is Keith "The Zinger" Zinger, a perfectly capable blocker who makes a nice backup and should be easy to lock up for years to come. That's quite the solid depth chart, in my opinion.

In addressing the position for the long haul, I think we have to be realistic. Tight end is an important position in this offense because Mike Smith & Co. are big believers in having a plethora of quality blockers and players who are generally versatile. That means whoever ends up being the heir apparent to Gonzo has to be able to do both. That means we're going to have to either invest an early-round pick at the position or grab a project who the team can bring along slowly. Frankly, the chances of the Falcons grabbing someone like Jermaine Gresham in 2010 are about as low as my chances of traveling back in time and bringing Heidi Klum to my high school prom. It just ain't gonna happen.

So that leaves a project. Honestly, I believe there's good arguments to be made for taking one in 2010 (giving the kid at least a full season to take tight-ending lessons from Gonzo) and 2011 (stronger tight end draft class). I'm willing to bet that Gonzo has two excellent seasons left in him, so I'd highly recommend the team address its existing needs on defense and along the offensive line and then roll the dice on a mid-round pick at the position next year who will still have a little time to get ready for a prominent role.

And before you say it, yes, I know this is probably the last position on the roster we need to discuss right now. But...tight ends need love too!