Few would argue that 2011 was the year of the tight end. From guys like Rob Gronkowski putting up wide receiver numbers to virtually every team in the NFL implementing some sort of double tight end package, it is safe to say that the tight end position has changed dramatically for the time being.
The 2012 draft class was not full of household names at the position, but there were a few guys taken in April who could see significant time and emerge as game-changers this season. Landing one of them on your roster during your draft could be the difference between playing for the title and giving up after Week 4.
Here are three tight ends who fit that bill.
The Antonio Gates era is quickly coming to an end. You know it, I know it and the Chargers know it.
As such, they drafted Green out of Louisiana-Lafeyette in hopes that he will develop into Gates' heir apparent.
If anything should happen this season to the aging and injury-prone Gates, Green could step in and put up huge numbers.
At first glance, he looks like a basketball player, much like Gates. His slender frame gives him room to grow. If he does and is able to maintain his athleticism, he could develop into a Gronkowski-like threat.
Egnew was a pass-catching machine at Missouri, especially in 2010 when he caught 90 balls.
He is an elite receiver at the tight end position, reminding me of a young Dallas Clark. I expect him to pass Anthony Fasano on the depth chart early this season and assume the role of safety valve for whoever starts at quarterback.
The first instinct for most people is to compare Fleener to Gronkowski, but I'm not sure that's a valid comparison.
Fleener is more like Jason Witten. In addition to having great hands and superb route-running skills, he is an underrated blocker with a high football IQ.
There is a very good chance he could end up being Andrew Luck's top receiver in a Colt's offense that struggles to find its rhythm in 2012.