Ranking the AFC West tight ends

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
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Antonio GatesJody Gomez/US PresswireSan Diego veteran Antonio Gates remains one of the NFL's elite tight ends.
We are continuing our AFC West positional rankings with the tight ends. It’s a group that is great at the top and young and workmanlike after that. Here we go:

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego: Gates is getting older and health has been an issue. But he is still the class of this division.

2. Tony Moeaki, Kansas City: It will be interesting to see if Moeaki can quickly rebound from missing his second season with a torn ACL. He had a terrific rookie season. I think he has star potential.

3. Jacob Tamme, Denver: I went with Tamme over his teammate because Tamme already has a relationship with Peyton Manning from their Colts’ days.

4. Joel Dreessen, Denver: We will see a lot of Tamme and Dreessen. Both are professionals who are capable of making big plays.

5. Kevin Boss, Kansas City: Boss is best suited as a second option, and he is a good one. Moeaki-Boss is a nice combination.

6. Randy McMichael, San Diego: A gritty, hard-nosed veteran who the San Diego coaching staff loves.

7. Brandon Myers, Oakland: He’s a good player who is limited in the receiving game.

8. Julius Thomas, Denver: The Broncos love the potential of this former college basketball player. Injuries robbed him of most of his rookie season, but he showed preseason flashes.

9. David Ausberry, Oakland: A converted receiver who gets a chance to show what he can do for the Raiders at one of their most vulnerable positions.

10. Richard Gordon, Oakland: A blocker who will be given a chance to develop for the Raiders.

11. Ladarius Green, San Diego: Don’t expect much from this fourth-round pick right away, but I can see him being given an opportunity or two. The Chargers think he can be Gates’ eventual replacement.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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