Data Points: Tight end a safe pick in first round

If you haven’t heard it yet, you’re bound to catch it at some point this weekend. Someone, whether it’s a draft analyst, host, or just the burly guy drinking a PBR next to you at the sports bar, will wonder aloud why a team would take a tight end in the first round.

Many fans argue that not only is it not a sexy pick, but the use a club gets out of the tight end position doesn’t warrant the high price of a first-round pick.

Not to play devil’s advocate, but if you look at the tight ends taken in the first round over the last six years, it’s a veritable who’s who of good players: Heath Miller (2005), Vernon Davis (2006), Marcedes Lewis (2006), Greg Olsen (2007), Dustin Keller (2008), Brandon Pettigrew (2009), and one of last year’s better rookies, Jermaine Gresham.

Going a step further, if you compare the top tight ends taken in the last three drafts (Gresham, Pettigrew, Keller) to the first wide receiver selected in that same draft, the numbers are pretty lopsided … at least when it comes to receptions per season. That list of wideouts includes Demaryius Thomas (2010), Darrius Heyward-Bey (2009, and Donnie Avery (2008), who was actually the first pick in the second round.

In case you’re wondering, touchdown receptions aren’t any closer. The tight ends mentioned have scored 20 career touchdowns, while the wide receivers have only 12.

How you liking that Heyward-Bey pick, Raiders fans?

– Elliot Harrison

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