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Falcons Draft Needs: Tight Ends

From here until the draft, I'll occasionally be taking a look at each position and giving a quick rundown on how badly we need to upgrade at that position and give a handful of prospects that we might be able to obtain that could help us at that position. This time, I'm checking out who will likely be the heir apparent to GOAT Tony Gonzalez, the tight ends.

I wouldn't say this is necessarily a huge position of need, but Gonzo is getting no younger and a replacement is definitely a need. If there is no football this season and Gonzo retires due to lack of action, then we'll have a problem.

Tight end is such a difficult position to draft because a good tight end has to have a two-pronged arsenal in that he must be able to run block effectively and catch passes effectively, much like our own Gonzo does. Usually, tight ends are skilled in either one or the other and have to be trained to perform the duty they are less skilled at, and that tends to be a real pain in the butt.

For a look at some potential tight end draftees, join me after the jump!

Tight end is such a difficult position to draft. I'd argue it's more of a crapshoot than WRs because TEs are generally slower, bulkier players who have to be either exceptional route runners to get open or be blessed with unheard of speed (Greg Olsen). And even then, if they don't have the strength to manhandle a DE or LB, they'll get owned right off the team.

Here are a few potential tight ends we may take a look at in this year's draft. Unfortunately, highlight videos don't show blocking potential, so I'll be judging purely on catching ability alone for this. Rest assured, Peelle is a competent run blocker.

Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph, at one point, had gained some pretty serious traction as a suitor for our first round draft pick this year until we realized that we aren't a perfect team and didn't just win the first of 10 straight Super Bowls. On tape, he looks like a receiver. He doesn't look very bulky at all, but possesses excellent hands and has that "somehow just gets open" look to his catches. That should sound eerily familiar to you guys. Anywho, he possesses pretty good speed for a tight end, but I worry his lack of size could hinder his run blocking ability. He also caught passes from "Missile Arm" Clausen so dropsies shouldn't be an issue. Highlight vid here.

Lance Kendricks: This guy has been discussed briefly  here on the Falcoholic (as well as the next two gentlemen) but he also looks more like a larger receiver than a real tight end. I suppose, in essence, that's what we need, or rather, that's what a good tight end should look like, but I worry about these receiver-ish tight ends being too passive at the point of attack. He appears to be bigger than Rudolph, but also appears to have a higher top end speed than Rudolph. There are a few times in his highlight video where he really kicks it into top gear, but too many tacklers have a good angle on him for him to really show it. He does like to catch with his body, which is never a good thing, but he did make some good catches with his hands. Highlight vid here.

DJ Williams: Straight outta Arkansas, Williams is a bit undersized for a TE at 6'2", but he certainly looks the part of someone who can block. He's a bit stocky looking and does look a bit slow, however he did win the Mackey Award as well as the Disney Spirit Award this past season, so he's definitely no slouch both on and off the field. He possesses a big body, much like Gonzo, and displays solid hands. He appears to be pretty well covered in highlights, though. The highlight video I found actually shows him doing some run and pass blocking and, while the video is only going to show the good blocks, he still shows that he's capable of both blocking and catching. I think this guy might be worth taking a look at, for sure. Highlight vid here.

Rob Housler: There weren't any real highlight videos on this guy, but I did a little research and this guy most definitely shot up some draft boards at the combine. He hails from Florida Atlantic, a smaller school, but he possesses incredible speed for someone his size. He ran a 4.5 40 at the combine, and he's 6'5" 245 pounds. On the video I found, he looks to be incredibly skinny, though he does show his excellent speed. It pretty much showed any play he was involved in, and he did look a bit lost on some blocking assignments and was manhandled on one occasion. His route running was very good. He looks more like a receiver with some blocking potential. If he packed on some muscle while retaining his speed, he could be very, very good at the next level.

There are a few more tight ends to mention, namely Virgil Green, Jordan Cameron, and Schuylar Oordt. I know Oordt and Cameron have been mentioned on here before, but Green didn't really make any headway until he lit up the combine. He might be a mid-round sleeper pick if he keeps doing his thing.

What do you guys think? Any tight ends I might've missed? Should we focus more on a pass catcher or a run blocker? Let's discuss!