Carlson the best tight end in the division?

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
2:36
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers and Seahawks were the only NFC West teams to draft tight ends this offseason, and then only late in the draft.

The rest of the division has sought depth from the free-agent scrap heap. The 49ers didn't bring back Billy Bajema, but the Rams signed him. The Rams had long ago given up on Dominique Byrd, but the Cardinals signed him. The Seahawks signed John Owens from the Lions.

The 49ers' sixth-round pick, Bear Pascoe, could factor significantly in double-tight personnel groupings, perhaps at the expense of Delanie Walker. It's early to forecast where Seahawks seventh-rounder Cameron Morrah might fit in Seattle.

A quick look at NFC West tight ends, with less regard for the order, which figures to change significantly in some cases:

TE Cardinals 49ers Rams Seahawks
1
Stephen Spach
Vernon Davis
Randy McMichael
John Carlson
2
Leonard Pope Delanie Walker
Joe Klopfenstein
John Owens
3
Ben Patrick
Bear Pascoe
Billy Bajema
Cameron Morrah
4
Anthony Becht
J.J. Finley
Daniel Fells
Joe Newton
5
Dominique Byrd
--
Eric Butler John Tereshinski
6
Alex Shor
--
-- --

The top three tight ends in the division, for my money:

  1. Carlson: Very good receiver. Only getting started.
  2. McMichael: Established veteran with some versatility.
  3. Davis: Very good blocker, inconsistent receiver. Could be on the rise.
Davis arguably should rank higher than McMichael, but he has not produced the way McMichael has over the course of his career.

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