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Safe bets are few at tight end

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Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:26 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

This is generally regarded as a solid, maybe even borderline strong draft at tight end. There are 6-7 players who could be drafted in the top 100 choices, which is about normal. (Last year, seven were taken in the first three rounds, but the year before that number was only three. On average over the past five drafts, 6.4 go in Rounds 1-3.)

But there are some questions with even the higher-rated prospects in this class. If you ask me who I think is the safest bet, it starts at the top with Brandon Pettigrew, who might not be great in a complex offense. But if you're using the power-run game and having him run a basic route tree and not asking too much of him, Pettigrew is a great pick. He'd make any team better, though, because he's versatile and solid across the board.

After that, you have questions. Cornelius Ingram carries serious injury risk, even with great potential. Chase Coffman might have great hands, but he too is coming off an injury that has prevented him from doing much lately. Jared Cook can fly, but is he too one-dimensional? Shawn Nelson also appears to be a good receivers but hardly looks like a complete blocker now. Similar questions follow James Casey and Travis Beckum.

So who might be the next safest tight end after Pettigrew? Nolan Nawrocki likes Richard Quinn of UNC, and the more I have looked into him (Quinn, not Nawrocki), the more I like. He's a strong blocker now, but Quinn possesses the talent to become a good receiver. He was overlooked in Chapel Hill because they had three NFL-caliber wideouts to throw to. Quinn might be a safe picks and a sleeper, if that's possible. 

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