Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Finally, company for Vernon Davis at TE

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

NFC West teams pounced on tight ends in the 2011 NFL draft.

The St. Louis Rams made Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks the 47th player and second tight end selected. The Arizona Cardinals were the next team to draft a tight end, making Florida Atlantic's Rob Housler the 69th overall selection.

Since 2006, NFL teams have drafted only 10 tight ends higher than the Rams selected Kendricks. Two of those 10 start for the Rams' NFC West rivals: Vernon Davis, chosen sixth overall by San Francisco in 2006, and John Carlson, chosen 38th overall by Seattle in 2008.

Davis has become a Pro Bowl-caliber threat in the passing game even though the 49ers have suffered multiple scheme changes on offense. Carlson's production has fallen off amid similar changes, although he emerged as a threat off play-action during the playoffs last season.

Adding Kendricks and Housler to the NFC West should upgrade the position within the division. For that to happen, they'll have to outperform some of their disappointing predecessors. Since 2006, NFC West teams have missed on multiple tight ends, including three -- Joe Klopfenstein (Rams), Leonard Pope (Cardinals) and Dominique Byrd (Rams) -- in the second or third round.

Draft analyst Rob Rang pointed to Kendricks in particular as a good fit for his new team. Rang called Kendricks "a matchup nightmare with the reliable hands to take advantage of Sam Bradford's accuracy down the seam."

The Rams could certainly use one of those.