First look at TE for 2011 NFL draft

Updated: August 20, 2010, 2:23 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.
When evaluating tight ends, it is important to consider all aspects of their games -- separation skills, ball skills, big-play ability, competitiveness/toughness and blocking. As we finalize our initial 2011 draft board, here's how we rank the top tight ends by skill set. (Draft-eligible underclassmen are denoted with an asterisk.)

[+] EnlargeKyle Rudolph
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNotre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph has the abiilty to make big plays in the passing game.
Separation skills
The challenge when evaluating a tight end's separation skills is sifting through potentially deceptive variables like his supporting cast, the offensive system he plays in, the types of defensive coverage and the level of competition he faces. While there's no exact formula, some of the key ingredients include recognition skills, initial burst, change-of-direction skills and competitiveness.