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'Total package' tight ends appealing in 2013 draft class

By Tim Graham

Even if the Buffalo Bills weren't in the market for a tight end because of Scott Chandler's Week 16 knee injury, they probably ought to have considered drafting one.

All-around tight ends are potent weapons, and the Bills haven't had one who can strike fear in a defense since, well ... Have they ever?

That could change in 2013 if the Bills wanted to.

This year's draft class is considered strong at tight end and might include the next Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley or Aaron Hernandez.

"I think there's more tight ends [worth drafting] than probably I've seen in two or three years," Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

A worthwhile voice on the topic is Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. He has been monitoring the draft pool because Gonzalez, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, could retire.

"It's a good tight end group," Dimitroff said at the combine. "The numbers are good. The athleticism is good. The ability to catch the ball is good, and the ability to block is there.

"I think we all know the importance of the tight end position. It's not just about catching the ball, but it's also about being able to block the right way. I think there are a number of guys in this group with the total package, blocking and receiving."

Among the top prospects are Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert, Stanford's Zach Ertz, Florida's Jordan Reed, San Diego State's Gavin Escobar, Cincinnati's Travis Kelce, Rice's Vance McDonald and Michigan State's Dion Sims.

"If you can find a tight end who can block as well as run around, separate, catch the ball and turn up the field -- and there are a number of them in the league right now -- a number of these tight ends in the league who have been very prolific.

"They're such high-percentage shots. It makes us realize the importance of the position. We don't underestimate that when we're evaluating."


2013 draft | Buddy Nix | Scott Chandler
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |