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2nd Season Tight Ends

If you’re like me, you don’t like to burn a high-round draft pick on a top-tier tight end like Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates.  As predictable as the “crispy” carpet from dried-up spilled beer the day after draft night, every year someone plucks one of these guys off the board much sooner than your mock draft predicted.  Though it would be nice to insert one of these TD machines into your line up each week at the tight end position, especially in TE mandatory leagues, I find there is more value in using the early rounds for solidifying the key positions of RB1, RB2, QB1, and WR1.  Taking this approach then requires an owner to find a potential “gem” in the later rounds that will overproduce at the tight end position. 

 

I appeal to you to consider the 2nd season tight end, specifically the first and second round NFL draft picks from a year ago.  Let me illustrate why…

 

I stumbled on this trend a few years back in 2001 when, in a later round I was digging deep through my cheat sheet for a back up tight end.  There was Anthony Becht, a name I recognized from the previous year’s NFL draft.  He appeared low on many rankings as he had an uneventful rookie season.  I took a shot at him anyway thinking this guy must have some talent to be drafted so high by the Jets.  He finished the year as my starting TE with 5 TD’s and 321 receiving yards.  The same year, Bubba Franks finished with 9 TD’s and 322 receiving yards.  He was also a second year tight end who had a stellar season after moderate results as a rookie. 

 

Next season, when it came time to plan my draft strategy, I included the analysis of that year’s crop of 2nd season tight ends.  One in particular stood out to me as a player that could have a breakout year, Todd Heap.  Again, I was able to take him in the later rounds of the draft as a second tight end.  And again, he outperformed my other tight end and became my starter by year’s end.  He finished the season with 6 TD’s and a whopping 836 receiving yards.

 

Here are first or second round NFL draft tight ends that had significant efforts in their second season.

 

Player

2nd season

Touchdowns

Receiving yards

1st season

Touchdowns

Receiving yards

Bubba Franks

2001

9

322

2000

1

363

Anthony Becht

2001

5

321

2000

2

144

Todd Heap

2002

6

836

2001

1

206

Alge Crumpler

2002

5

455

2001

3

330

Daniel Graham

2003

4

409

2002

1

150

Dallas Clark

2004

5

423

2003

1

340

L.J. Smith

2004

5

377

2003

1

321

 

I hope I have peaked your interested in this apparent trend.  Now, let’s take a look at this year’s crop of 2nd season tight ends. 

 

Kellen Winslow – Cleveland Browns.  This fellow is on I.R. as he decided to take up motorcycle thrill riding in the off-season and failed miserably.  He would have been a prime target for Trent Dilfer this year, maybe next year.

 

Ben Troupe – Tennessee Titans.  Ben Troupe is another interesting prospect with injury issues.  He injured his foot in mini-camp back in May.  It appears that the injury has healed and he should be ready for the regular season opener.  Troupe was the top rated tight end on many team’s boards going into the NFL draft in 2004.  However, the New England Patriots chose Ben Watson ahead of him and he slid to the second round.  I like Ben Troupe a lot and think that he will have a break out season in 2005.  Troupe and Erron Kinney will make a great pair of targets for Steve McNair given the lack of targets and the wide receiver position.  Look for Troupe to finish the year with 5 TD’s and 450 yards receiving. 

 

Ben Watson – New England Patriots.  Ben Watson is third on the depth chart for the New England Patriot behind Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria at tight end.  Fauria is getting a bit older in his 11th season.  However, it may take a while to work Watson into the offense with two veterans ahead of him.  I wouldn’t expect to see big number from him this year, 2 TD’s and 150 receiving yards.

 

Kris Wilson – Kansas City Chiefs.  Kris Wilson is another tight end who sitting behind two veteran tight ends on the depth chart, Tony Gonzalez and Jason Dunn.  Don’t look for big number from Wilson this year.  I would expect to see 1 TD and 150 yards receiving from him.

 

Ben Hartsock – Indianapolis Colts.  Peyton Manning threw 11 TD’s to tight ends last season.  Granted, Peyton had a career year with 49 TD’s setting the NFL record.  However, I still think we can expect to see 9 TD’s thrown to Indianapolis tight ends.  Hartsock became the #2 tight end after Marcus Pollard left for the Detroit Lions.  I would expect 4 TD’s and 325 yards from Ben Hartsock this season.

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