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Give The Tight End Some Respect!

The way the drafts have gone since 1997, it would seem that the tight end (TE) position gets no respect. From 97' - 2011 there have been 3 years without a first round TE taken, and only 18 selected in that round over that 15 year span.

The position has clearly not been the most pressing concern for most NFL teams. Is that trend about to change? The last four years of the draft saw a 2.5 man increase in the average # of TE's selected over the previous 11 years.

During the 2011 season, over 60% of the Patriots passes went to a tight end. We also saw them use Aaron Hernandez as a full back toward the end of the season, and as we all know, they were tough to stop at times.

The modern day tight ends may be the very best of the athletes on the field. When you consider all that is expected of them it becomes apparent why. Changing from a part time lineman to a receiver takes a special physical make up, and to be exceptional at it is rare.

Here is a statement that the great Bill Walsh had to say about the position. After explaining the two types of tight ends, he explained that there is a third type. You can read his full explanation HERE.

"...the great, all around type who is a Hall of Fame type. He is so gifted that he can do all of the things you would usually require two types of tight ends to do.

"That type of player makes this a unique position in the NFL. One man who can do all these things, the great, all around tight end becomes the essence of the National Football League. And there have been very few -- John Mackey, Mike Ditka, Jackie Smith, are the only (three) who have made the Hall of Fame."

Enter Shannon Sharp! John Mackey, Mike Ditka, & Jackie Smith may have been good, but Shannon took the position to new levels. If you have not seen his HOF speech you can view it HERE.

Dm110806_hof_speech_shannon_medium

via atolemdro.files.wordpress.com

The list below includes all TE's selected from 1997 - 2011, (15 years) showing the # selected in each round. This is one of the smallest groups of players drafted each year.

Round......Qty Selected.....CUT in Camp

1....................15....................00
2....................19....................00
3....................21....................00
4....................14....................00
5....................29....................01 (02%)
6....................22....................06 (27%)
7....................37....................11 (35%)

A total of 157 tight ends were selected during the 11 year period from 1997 - 2007, with the longest tenured at 15 years. The list below shows the number of those players based upon how many years they played. Of these players, 43 (27%) were still playing last year.

Years Played......# of Players.....% of total

00 year........................18..................12 %
01 year........................07..................04 %
02 year........................09..................06 %
03 year........................13..................09 %
04 year........................16..................10 %
05 year........................21..................13 % (8 still active)
06 year........................20..................13 % (9 still active)
07 year........................11..................07 % (5 still active)
08 year........................10..................06 % (5 still active)
09 year........................10..................06 % (4 still active)
10 year........................11..................07 % (5 still active)
11 year........................04..................03 % (2 still active)
12 year........................03..................02 % (2 still active)
13 year........................02..................01 % (2 still active)
14 year........................00..................00 %
15 year........................01..................<1 % (1 still active)

The 00 - 04 year group (63 players) are already out of the league. They represent 40% of the total drafted. This is an improvement over most of the other positions in the league that I've studied to date.

The 05 - 09 year group (72 players = 46% of all players drafted) are a mixture of players who are gone (41) or were still on a roster last year (31). These two groups represent 86% of the entire draft. Of the 21 players who made the 10 year + mark, 12 were still playing last year.

To finish up, here is the comparison of the player longevity in this group based upon the rounds in which they were selected. (AVGY = the total years played averaged out amongst the players selected in that round.)

Round.....# Drafted......%@ 5+years.....%@ 8+years....%@ 11+years...........AVGY

1.....................15...............(14) 93%...........(10) 66%..........(03) 20%.............8.6 years (129 total years)
2.....................19...............(17) 89%...........(07) 37%..........(02) 11%.............6.9 years (132 total years)
3.....................21...............(17) 81%...........(07) 33%..........(01) 05%.............6.6 years (138 total years)
4.....................14...............(07) 50%...........(04) 29%..........(00) 00%.............5.3 years (74 total years)
5.....................29...............(16) 55%...........(06) 21%..........(00) 00%.............4.6 years (133 total years)
6.....................22...............(11) 50%...........(05) 23%..........(03) 14%.............4.6 years (102 total years)
7.....................37...............(12) 32%...........(03) 08%..........(01) 05%.............3.6 years (133 total years)

The 11+ years aren't to kind to this group, but a higher % from each round pass the 8 year mark. Perhaps the 2002 class will hang tough this year and begin to change that stat.

1998 was a terrible year for TE's, but 1999 more than made up for it as you will see below. I will wrap this up with the list of players who managed to reach or surpass the ten year tenure mark.

1997 (Round Selected / Name / Last Year Played)

1 Tony Gonzalez .......2011* 15y
6 Itula Mili ..................2006 10y
7 Kris Mangum .........2006 10y

1999

2 Reggie Kelly...........2011* 13y
2 Jim Kleinsasser.....2011* 13y
3 Steve Heiden ........ 2009 11y
3 Daniel Campbell ...2008 10y
5 Jerame Tuman ......2008 10y
6 Desmond Clark ....2010 12y
6 James Dearth ....... 2009 11y

2000

1 Anthony Becht ....... 2011* 12y
7 Brad St. Louis .......2009 10y
7 Brian Jennings ......2011* 12y

2001

1 Todd Heap .............2011* 11y
2 Alge Crumpler .......2010 10y
4 B. Manumaleuna ...2010 10y
6 David Martin ..........2011* 11y

2002

1 Jeremy Shockey ...2011* 10y
1 Daniel Graham ......2011* 10y
4 Justin Peelle ..........2011* 10y
4 Randy McMichael .2011* 10y
6 John Gilmore .........2011* 10y

My appreciation to http://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/ for providing the source for most of this information.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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