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Patriots.com Draft Board: Tight Ends

1. Vernon Davis, Maryland – A physical freak who has the size and strength of a tight end and the speed of a receiver. Great leaping ability allows him to outfight defenders for the ball. Not a tremendous blocker but teams aren't drafting him to block. Gets off the line quickly and is even a tough matchup for defensive backs down the field because of his speed. A top ten pick that has unlimited potential because of his amazing physical attributes.

2. Leonard Pope, Georgia – At 6-7, 250 pounds, a great athlete who is a difficult matchup for defenses because of his size and strength. The scary thing is he has the frame to get even bigger. Has soft hands and very good speed for his size. Is a very fluid receiver. Has trouble getting low on blocks sometimes because of his height. Runs good routes and is surprisingly quick out of his breaks for a player his size. Should be the second tight end selected.

3. Marcedes Lewis, UCLA – Probably the best receiving tight end in this draft after Davis. Unfortunately, he's also probably the worst blocking tight end in this class. Is tough to stay with as a receiver because of his combination of size and speed. Has the ability to be great but doesn't always play up to his potential. Has very good hands and made a lot of acrobatic catches in college. At 6-6, 255 pounds, is a matchup nightmare for defenses just like Davis and Pope. Would be a first round draft pick based on his receiving skills but his inability to block will probably drop him into Round 2.

4. Anthony Fasano, Notre Dame – Strong, thick player who is a very good in-line blocker. Doesn't have great speed but his route running really developed last year under Charlie Weis and he shows a knack for getting open. May have the best hands of any tight end in this draft. Has yet to realize his potential so he has a lot of upside. Won't stretch the middle of the field like some of the other tight ends in this draft but his combination of blocking and receiving skills makes him one of the most complete tight ends in this class. A solid second-round pick with the potential to get better as a pro.

5. David Thomas, Texas – The most underrated prospect at the tight end position. Has all the tools to be a productive starting tight end in the NFL. Very good blocker who is physical at the point of attack. Runs the best routes of any tight end in the draft and has very soft hands. Makes a lot of tough catches in traffic and breaks a lot of tackles. Isn't overly big but is a physical player. Outstanding pass-catching tight end who gets a lot of yards after the catch. Could be another Jason Witten where he's drafted in the third or fourth round and ends up becoming a Pro Bowl player. Has all the physical tools and intangibles to succeed in the NFL and will be a steal for some team if he's selected in the middle rounds of the draft.

6. Dominique Byrd, USC – Not a great blocker but excels as a receiver. Didn't put up huge numbers in college but that had more to do with his talented supporting cast than his own ability. Had a great Senior Bowl week that really helped his draft stock. Not a big threat down the field but very effective in the short-intermediate area. Could be more productive in the NFL because he'll be given more opportunities to make plays. Doesn't have the upside of the five guys ranked ahead of him but should develop into a solid, reliable tight end in the NFL.

7. Joe Klopfenstein, Colorado – A consistent receiver who caught 12 touchdown passes in his last three years at Colorado. He runs very good routes and doesn't drop many balls. Has good speed but has trouble separating from defenders at times. Smart player who knows how to play the position. Solid blocker but can still improve in that area once he gets to the NFL. Kind of similar to Christian Fauria but will probably be drafted in the first three or four rounds, which could be too high for the Patriots to select a tight end when they have more pressing needs to address first.

8. T.J. Williams, North Carolina State – Boy, with all these talented players, one would think the Wolfpack would have been more successful the past couple of seasons. An underrated prospect to keep an eye on. Is a strong player with the speed to get down the field. Made a lot of tough catches at N.C. State because his quarterbacks weren't very accurate. A better receiver than a blocker but has the size to improve with the right coaching. Is a little raw and needs to work on his route running. Is an interesting player because he has the upside to be a solid NFL tight end.

9. Tim Day, Oregon – Wasn't used a lot in Oregon's spread offense so his numbers as a senior weren't anything special. Not much of a block but similar to UCLA's Lewis is that he's a pure receiving tight end. Very good hands and will fight defenders for the ball. Injuries have been a concern in the past. That and his liability as a blocker has hurt his draft status. Decent speed and tough to bring down after the catch. Had issues with his attitude in college. A middle round selection who is a boom or bust player. Has ability but needs to put it all together.

10. Troy Bienemann, Washington State – An Andy Hart special. He loves this guy. A big target with good hands. Excels at catching the ball on the short-intermediate routes. Doesn't have great speed but has a knack for getting open. Strong, physical blocker. Doesn't have a lot of elusiveness and that prevents him from getting yards after the catch. Does his best work in a short area. An established long snapper, his versatility and toughness should make him a solid backup tight end. Looks like the kind of player the Patriots would be interested in if he's available in the later rounds.

Overrated

Byrd– Byrd is a decent prospect but he's living off his performance at the Senior Bowl. I think he could be a solid NFL tight end but I think he's rated too high on a lot of people's boards. He's projected to be drafted in the second round but I see him more as a fourth round pick because I like some other tight ends over him. Byrd does some things well but I don't think he has the upside some of the other players have in what is a very deep crop of tight ends this year.

Underrated

Thomas– It's hard to imagine that Davis won't end up being the best tight end to come out of this draft but after him, Thomas could be next in line. There really isn't much this guy doesn't do well. He's an effective blocker and a very polished receiver. Thomas can come in and help a team as a rookie because of his intelligence and knack for getting open. Not only is Thomas ready to help an NFL team now, he also has the upside to be even better. Thomas will probably be the fifth or sixth tight end selected on draft day – and in my opinion – an absolute steal for the team that selects him.

Tim Massaquoi, Michigan – You don't hear much about Massaquoi but I think he's one of the better receiving tight ends in this draft. He runs well after the catch and has the speed to stretch defenses. He isn't that big for a tight end and needs to get stronger at the next level but when you are talking about the sixth and seventh round of the draft, you're looking for players with potential and Massaquoi has upside. He may never be a dominant blocker but Massaquoi has the physical skills to be a solid pass-catching tight end at the pro level.

Possible Patriots

Williams – The Patriots need to find a third tight end to replace Fauria but they probably won't select one until the second day of the draft. Williams is a player who could be around in that fifth-sixth round area and is a player with upside. He's a solid receiver and although he's not a great blocker, he has the frame to be more physical with the right coaching. Williams would be a nice addition if the Patriots can land him on the second day of the draft.

Bienemann – He has the qualities to be a third tight end in the NFL. A decent receiver and strong blocker, Bienemann could step in and fill the void left by Fauria's departure. He's never going to be a great NFL tight end but Bienemann's versatility and intangibles would make him a solid selection in the later rounds of the draft. His ability to long snap increases his value in the NFL.

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