Time to rank the tight ends. This could end up being a position of strength in the league -- four of the eight teams have a player on the Mackey Award watch list, given annually to the best tight end in the nation.
1. Ryan Griffin, Connecticut. No question he is athletically gifted and had a good season in 2010, catching 13 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. But new offensive coordinator George DeLeone wants him to be pushed harder, to reach his full potential. Perhaps that is why John Delahunt also was listed atop the post-spring depth chart.
2. Nick Provo, Syracuse. Provo has made himself quite valuable in the passing game, having caught 33 passes for 365 yards last season. Can he stay healthy all year?
3. Josh Chichester, Louisville. Potential is a word that is thrown around a lot in these rankings. Going to use it again here with the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Chichester. It would not surprise me if he ended the season as the top tight end in the league. No question he is going to have a huge role in the Cardinals' offense, especially with questions in the receiving corps.
4. D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers. Another player with mounds of potential, it is time for Jefferson to show why many believe he could be the best tight end in the league. Perhaps a new position coach in Brian Angelichio will help him live up to expectations.
5. Andreas Shields, USF. Shields sits atop the post-spring depth chart following the loss of Kevin Gidrey. He did play in all 13 games last season and started the bowl game. He caught five passes for 74 yards and could be a bigger threat in the pass game this season.
6. Adrien Robinson, Cincinnati. Robinson is not listed atop the Bearcats' post-spring depth chart, but I think he has the potential to win the job over Travis Kelce and Blake Annen (listed as No. 1 now). He is big, strong and athletic and needs to step up with Ben Guidugli gone.
7. Hubie Graham, Pitt. Another player with potential after transferring from Illinois, Graham will play more of an H-back/tight end position and should have more of a role in the passing game than Brock DeCicco. Todd Graham likes them both.
8. John Delahunt, UConn. There is a reason he is pushing Griffin for the starting job. Delahunt caught five passes for 76 yards, has good hands and is a good blocker. No question the Huskies have the best depth in the league.