One tight end will be selected to represent the NFC West. Feel free to share your opinion, and don’t forget to vote!
Arizona Cardinals: Ben Patrick
A former seventh-round pick, Patrick has seemingly improved every season since he was drafted in 2007. Although he isn’t well known around the league, Patrick has a nice set of hands and is a more-than-capable blocker. He should be the starting tight end in Arizona and could become the Matt Leinart’s best friend not named Larry. Last season, Patrick had 12 receptions for 146 yards and a pair of scores.
San Francisco 49ers: Vernon Davis
Explosive athleticism and physical prowess best define Davis, who finally had a break-out season in the National Football League last year. Following a top-ten selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, Vernon Davis never lived up to the hype until San Francisco’s offense became more vertical and dynamic. In 2009, Davis caught 78 balls for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns. Prior to last season, Davis averaged 34 receptions, 377 yards, and 3 touchdowns per season.
Seattle Seahawks: John Carlson
Carlson has developed into a very good starting tight end for the Seattle Seahawks and remains one of the team’s best young prospects. Despite a selection in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Carlson surprised a lot of people, starting nine games and becoming one of Seattle’s few offensive threats. So far, in his short NFL career, Carlson has averaged 53 catches, 601 yards, and 6 touchdowns per season.
St. Louis Rams: Daniel Fells
Fells is the starting tight end in St. Louis, for now. As the franchise rebuilds, Fells will look to become one of Sam Bradford’s primary targets in 2010. Last season, Fells started 4 games and caught 21 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. If Fells isn’t the answer in St. Louis, sportscasters everywhere can rejoice: the St. Louis Rams drafted tight end Michael Hoomanawanui in the fifth round of this year’s draft.
Shaun Dolence’s take:
As a Seahawks fan, I really want to pick John Carlson here. In a lot of divisions, he would probably be the easy selection; in a few years, I’m optimistic he’ll develop into one of the league’s better pass-catching tight ends.
Despite my homer tendencies, however, I think my vote has to be for Vernon Davis. While it is possible last season was a fluke, Davis’ athleticism makes it more likely he has developed into an elite tight end. Davis possesses a rare blend of speed, strength, and pass-catching skills.
Daniel Fells and Ben Patrick may be productive components to their respective offenses, but they’re far from elite players in the National Football League. They might be good, but in my opinion, they are far behind Vernon Davis and John Carlson.
Andrew Auger’s Take:
Vernon Davis’ breakout season makes this a tough call for me.
Out of the gate, the second round pick John Carlson obliterates the former No. 6 overall pick in terms of production over the first two seasons.
77 C/774 Y/7 TD/13.3 YPC/39 FD for Davis vs. 106 C/1201 Y/12 TD/11.3 YPC/63 FD for Carlson.
Up until his breakout season, people were labeling Davis as the stereotypical “combine bust” with his rare tangibles and amazing athleticism skyrocketing him up draft boards.
I mean, his 2009 almost outproduced the other three seasons combined; he had 1,132 yards and nine TD’s the first three seasons and 965 yards and 13 TD’s last year. He was actually more proficient in 2009 then the other three years combined.
Against the grain, I have to go with Carlson here; Davis may be more talented, but he has proven to be inconsistent. Carlson has proven to be both talented and consistent.
It’s going to be interesting seeing who outproduces whom next season with Jeremy Bates likely running the most two tight end sets in the league and Davis being Alex Smiths favorite target in 2010.
As for the other two, I know who they are, but don’t know terribly much about them. Rookies love their big bodied tight ends, so I have to think this will benefit Daniel Fells and I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives either the most or second most targets in what is bound to be a conservative passing game.
Ben Patrick has gone from seventh rounder to starter, it’s a nice story, but defenders don’t care what round you were drafted in. In limited time he has notched 323 yards for four scores. He has 30-40 catch potential being one of the top four targets in a pass happy Cardinals offense.
I expect Davis to win this vote, but Carlson should give him a run for his money.