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Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Pondering the tight end situation for Atlanta

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Here's a little ammunition for all those who think the Atlanta Falcons should take Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew with the 24th pick in the upcoming draft.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Falcons gained only 211 yards on passes to tight ends last season. That ranked last in the NFL.

Here's a quick look at the five lowest teams in that category.

Falcons: 211 yards
Cardinals: 237 yards
Patriots: 302 yards
Bengals: 360 yards
Rams: 382 yards

That said, I still don't see the Falcons taking Pettigrew. They have bigger needs on defense (linebacker, defensive tackle, defensive end, safety and maybe even cornerback). Also, I don't see offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey changing his system so dramatically that there suddenly will be a need for a tight end to catch 60 or 70 balls.

But the Falcons do recognize the only toy that quarterback Matt Ryan doesn't have is a tight end who can catch some passes. I'm thinking there's a strong chance the Falcons could draft a tight end any time after the first round. Missouri's Chase Coffman and South Carolina's Jared Cook could be possibilities if they last until the Falcons pick in the second round.

I think someone like Florida's Cornelius Ingram or Wisconsin's Travis Beckum could be very real possibilities in the middle rounds. Give Ryan somebody like that and you'll probably get 25 or 30 catches and a pretty safe bet that the Falcons won't rank last in this category again.