Over the last five years in the NFL, the demand has been high for playmaking tight ends. After watching Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez create mismatches throughout the 1990s, the rest of the league got jealous.
Size and strength were traded in for speed and athleticism, which led to high draft picks like Baltimore's Todd Heap, Atlanta's Alge Crumpler, Miami's Randy McMichael, the Giants' Jeremy Shockey, Indianapolis' Dallas Clark, Washington's Kellen Winslow Jr., New England's Ben Watson and Tennessee's Ben Troupe. Antonio Gates' emergence as one of the biggest pass-catching weapons in the NFL over the last two seasons has only increased the interest in the position.
Fortunately, after last year's draft produced just one prospect (Heath Miller, Steelers) in the first two rounds, this year's tight end class is shaping up as one of the strongest in years.