2009 NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends
By Russ Bliss

In recent years, the TE position has evened out in terms of more players providing fantasy football help with relevant contributions. Used to be that there were only 3 or 4 guys who stood out and the rest were a mish-mash of mediocrity for fantasy football production. But we're seeing more and younger NFL Draft prospect Tight Ends come into the league and have impact. In 2008, Dustin Keller and John Carlson both came in as rookies to post top 10 fantasy TE numbers. The 2009 NFL Draft class boasts a several intriguing prospects, but no one who really stands out as a sure fire hit to contribute right away for fantasy purposes. A lot depends on what type of offensive system they get drafted into. But there could be some surprise fantasy football sleepers from this year's crop.

1) Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State. At 6'5", 263 lbs, Pettigrew looks the part of the prototype NFL TE. An excellent blocker, Pettigrew also possesses solid hands and takes coaching well. The big knock on Pettigrew is that he isn't fast at all (4.86 in the 40). He may end up being a much better NFL TE than a fantasy football TE.

2) Cornelius Ingram, Florida. Missed the entire 2008 season with a torn ACL, but was considered one of the elite TE's going into this draft class before the injury. Ran a 4.68 40 at the combine showing he has excellent speed for the position after recovering from the injury. Has excellent size and hands and adjusts to poorly thrown passes. Willing to take a hit and fight for the ball. Not much of a blocker though.

3) Jared Cook, South Carolina. Great athlete and has rare speed (4.50 in the 40) for a guy who measures in at 6'4", 246 lbs. Excellent hands and adjusts well to the ball to make the tough catch. Good route runner, but struggles to avoid the jam at the line and while fast, does not always play to his timed speed. Disinterested and gives marginal effort when asked to block. Will likely be a pass catching specialist type of TE who does not play on rush downs.

4) James Casey, Rice. Excellent athlete who will be 25 in September. Spent 4 years playing minor league baseball before playing two college seasons. Had outstanding production in 2008 catching 92 passes for 1,045 yards and 9 TD's. Great hands and catches everything thrown his way. Sees the ball and adjusts to it easily. Not fast though and is still learning the position. Needs to get better at blocking. Takes coaching well and may need a year or two to realize his potential in the NFL.

5) Chase Coffman, Missouri. Very disciplined route runner who possesses excellent hands, Coffman has the mindset and maturity of a professional already. Course, it helps that his father, Paul Coffman, played in the NFL for a decade. Fights for yards after the catch and doesn't shy away from contact. Has good size (nearly 6'5") but only adequate speed. Won the Mackey Award in 2008 as the nation's best tight end. Broke a bone in his foot in the Alamo Bowl and draft status could suffer some as he has not been able to perform workout drills.

6) Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss. Tall and lean (6'5", 240 lbs), Nelson lacks the bulk to be an effective blocker and shows little strength blocking, or breaking tackles after the catch. What Nelson does offer is great speed (4.56 in the 40) to stretch the seam and a willingness to go up in traffic and make the tough catch. He gives effort as a blocker so if he can add some weight and spend time in the weight room, he could fill out and become more of a complete NFL Tight End Prospect.

7) Travis Beckum, Wisconsin. Lacks ideal size (6'3", 243 lbs) but is very athletic and sure handed. Runs crisp routes and is elusive after the catch. Does not give top effort when asked to block. Great numbers in 2006 and 2007 catching 136 passes for 1,885 yards and 11 TD's. 2008 season was cut short by a broken leg but was able to run at his pro day recently and appears to have fully recovered from that injury.

Stay in the know about our great free fantasy football offer this season and use us whenever you want for the best fantasy football draft , Trade, Weekly line-up advice through our Power Analyzers.