The NFL's tight end revolution

The Colts appear to be following the Patriots and Saints. Good thinking.

Originally Published: July 11, 2012
By Adam Gabriel | Special to ESPN Insider
Andrew Luck, Coby FleenerGetty ImagesThe Stanford tandem of Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener could pay big dividends for the Colts.

While no one would deny that the Indianapolis Colts' selection of Andrew Luck was a pivotal moment for that franchise, their second-round pick of 6-foot-6, 247-pound TE Coby Fleener at No. 34 overall may have been equally important.

The reason? Tight end production has been rapidly increasing across the NFL over the past dozen years, and that ever-improving performance appears to be fueling a golden era for quarterbacks. That's right -- there is significant evidence that it's not merely quarterbacks making the tight ends, but tight ends partially fueling the passing explosion. The kind of tight end matters.

In this day and age, having a playmaking TE is a must in the league for QBs, as record point and yardage totals are being posted. Starting with the appearances of converted basketball players Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, continuing through Kellen Winslow and Vernon Davis and now culminating with the monster seasons from Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, the data is in and the conclusion for NFL GMs should be clear: Go get your QB a tight end who can run and catch or you will be left behind.