- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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We've got much to discuss as our NFC West predraft positional rankings continue with input from Matt Williamson, resident scout for ESPN.com.
Tight ends are up next, followed later Wednesday by the offensive lines.
Matt Williamson Ranks West by Position
Sando: Five current NFC West tight ends entered the NFL in the first three rounds of their draft classes. San Francisco's Vernon Davis, Seattle's Zach Miller and St. Louis' Jared Cook are playing under contracts featuring a combined $59 million in guaranteed money. Their deals are scheduled to consume $23.7 million in combined cap space for 2013. Still, I could see every team in the division except for the St. Louis Rams drafting one in the first few rounds.
Williamson: I'd be shocked if I moved San Francisco out of the No. 1 ranking, especially if the 49ers drafted one, which I expect them to do. Vernon Davis is clearly the best tight end in the division. Cook may end up being that some day, but I do not trust him yet.
Sando: The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.
Sando: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said he "loved" Housler coming out of college and thought about drafting him as a big receiver. Overall, however, he would prefer his tight ends to be multidimensional players -- guys who block and catch well. Davis and Miller fit that profile. Each had 12 receptions, including one for a touchdown, during the playoffs last season. Both will enter the upcoming season more familiar with their young quarterbacks. But with John Carlson leaving Seattle one year ago and Delanie Walker leaving San Francisco this offseason, the Rams could now own the best one-two punch at the position heading into the draft.
Williamson: Miller came on strong. We could argue Cook versus Miller, but I give the Rams the edge over Seattle at tight end overall because Lance Kendricks is a decent backup who still has upside.
Sando: The Rams are obviously going to feature Cook in their receiving game. They gave him $19 million guaranteed while watching their more proven wideouts leave in free agency. Cook is going to serve as a wide receiver in some ways. Does that make Kendricks more of the traditional in-line tight end?
Williamson: Kendricks will never be a true inline 'Y' dealing with the Chris Clemonses of the world, but he can do that moreso than Cook. Cook is very much a receiver.
Sando: I can't argue with your tight end rankings too much, Matt. I'll be interested in seeing whether Miller picks up where he left off last season. This will be a position to revisit after the draft, too.
2012 Receiving Stats for Current NFC West Tight Ends