Atlanta Falcons 2012 NFL Draft: Will Coby Fleener Be Their First Draft Pick?

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Atlanta Falcons 2012 NFL Draft: Will Coby Fleener Be Their First Draft Pick?
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The general consensus at this point seems to be that Stanford's Coby Fleener will be the Falcons first pick in the 2012 draft. With the No. 55 pick overall, Atlanta has been chosen by several mock drafts to take the senior Cardinal tight end in Round 2.

We can't trust everything we read at this point, as free agency will still determine much of who the Falcons decide to target in April. However, we do know that Tony Gonzalez is reaching the end of his Hall-of-Fame career, and Atlanta will have to find an adequate replacement for him eventually. Is this the time to do it?

Fleener is a big, lengthy guy who still has some room to bulk up a bit. At 6'6", 245 lbs. he is tall and athletic with great route running skills, and the ability to make an impact in any passing game right away.

There's no denying his talent. The questions is, though, should the Falcons use their first selection available to take a back up tight end for the time being?

The most important characteristic many of these mock drafts have pointed out is his immediate potential. Fleener would clearly have no problem getting involved in the Falcons' passing attack early on. He has worked with Andrew Luck for several seasons now, a quarterback who has been labeled one of the best draft prospects in the past 25 years, which gives him a plus in experience.

Luck relied on Fleener in tough situations constantly, something Atlanta fans have often seen with the Ryan-Gonzalez connection. Ryan depends on his tight ends on third down and in red zone situations, which bodes well for Fleener. He finished with 10 touchdowns at Stanford this season, leading all receivers on the team.

Fleener showing off against UCLA

You have to wonder, is this the best player the Falcons can take in the second round? Will Fleener even be the top TE available?

Some other mock drafts have shown the Falcons taking Dwayne Allen and Orson Charles, two underclassmen tight ends with great NFL futures ahead of them as well. Allen is consistently ranked as the highest TE prospect for 2012, but there are sources out there that rank Charles No. 1.

Charles is no stranger to Georgia. After playing three seasons at UGA, he has made a name for himself as a versatile performer in passing game. He is smaller than Fleener and Allen, but is a good second faster in the 40, and creates mismatches for defenders. His blocking needs improvement, an area Fleener and Allen have the edge.

If the Falcons ended up with any one of these three players, they would be gaining a valuable contributor on offense. The majority of updated mock drafts have Allen taken off the board late in the first or early in the second round. It's looking like it will come down to Fleener and Charles as the best tight ends available.

But, the question still remains, is this the best position to address? Both sides of the ball have areas for improvement, so I'll pose the question to all of you. Should the Falcons take Fleener or another tight end in Round 2, or should they venture elsewhere?

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