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2011 Draft Positional Series: Tight Ends

It would appear on paper that the Cowboys have a solid set of tight ends. It is hard to argue that, starter, Jason Witten is not the best all around tight end in the NFL. But after Witten there is a lot of potential but not a lot of proven ability. It is unlikely the Cowboys will go after a tight end in this year’s draft unless the get rid of one on their roster, or plan to.

Jason Witten – Witten had his best season as a pro last year. He would have gladly given that up for the Cowboys to have a better season as a whole. That is the kind of guy he is. Witten hauled in 94 catches for 1,002 yards and a career high 9 touchdowns and he deserved his 6th straight Pro Bowl appearance. As his career has gone on we have been able to watch a player that had a lot of potential actually develop into what everyone hoped he would. Witten is special, and he can do it all. The Cowboys have been a blessed team to have and retain Witten. He will hold down the starting spot for this coming season, and many more after.

Martellus Bennett – Bennett is an enigma. The guy’s mouth accomplishes far more than his playing. Bennett made waves a few weeks ago when he declared there should be an “open competition” at quarterback between Romo and Kitna. There is no doubt that Bennett improved his numbers when Kitna was quarterback, but constant check downs to tight ends will do that. Bennett needs to put up or shut up this year in Dallas, or it will be his last year here. While Bennett had a career year for receptions he was held out of the end zone for the second straight season. He has all the physical tools to dominate in the NFL but he can’t seem to keep his head in it.

John Phillips – Phillips had a very unfortunate ACL tear at during the “Hall of Fame Game” in the preseason and wound up on the injured reserve list the whole season last year. When he was healthy in 2009 he made a lot of fans and coaches excited about his ability and versatility. The Cowboys will welcome him back next year. If Phillips can regain his pre-injury form, he will likely overtake Bennett for playing time.

While this year’s draft class is very week at tight end, here is what we have.

2011 Draft Prospects:

1. Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame – 6’6, 258 lbs., 4.75 sec. 40-yard dash, Bench (225) 19 reps
Rudolph is a very a very athletic tight end. His 40-time is high because he was running injured at his pro day. You don’t need to watch many of Rudolph’s highlight tapes to see he has some speed to get away from linebackers and great hands. He is a very smart player and a natural at the position. Is both a blocking tight end and a receiver. He could stand to add some muscle and be more physical at the point of attack. Projected 2nd Round.

2. Luke Stocker – Tennessee – 6’5, 258 lbs., 4.76 sec., Bench 27 reps
Stocker is a big strong tight end. He has decent hands but it very intelligent. He reads the defense well and is always in the right spot for his QB. He is a monster to bring down and often drags tacklers for extra yardage. A great blocker and often explodes into the second level. Stocker isn’t the best athlete in the class and won’t make anyone miss in the open field. He lacks quickness and speed and has a hard time breaking away from man coverage. Projected 2-3 Round.

3. D.J. Williams – Arkansas – 6’2, 245 lbs., 4.67 sec., Bench 22 reps
Williams is a true receiving tight end. He has amazing hands and good speed. He is able to separate from the coverage and runs great routes. He has a great release off the line and is very intelligent. Not a great blocker. He lacks size and strength to do too much in the run game. Isn’t scared of contact and will sometime seek it out. Has 3 years experience in a pro style offense. Projected 2-3 Round.

Other Notables:
1. Lance Kendricks – Wisconsin – 6’3, 247 lbs., 4.50 sec., Bench 25 reps. Projected 3-4 Round
2. Virgil Green – Nevada – 6’3, 249 lbs., 4.54 sec., Bench 23 reps. Projected 4 Round
3. Jordan Cameron – USC – 6’5, 254 lbs., 4.55 sec., Bench 23 reps. Projected 4-5 Round.

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