The New Orleans Saints have a stud tight end in Jimmy Graham and he is more than capable of carrying the offensive load. However, it would be beneficial for the Saints to look for a tight end in the draft as it would provide them with depth at the tight end position and hopefully a player that can complement Graham. Furthermore, with tight end David Thomas’s concussion history drafting a tight end could prove to be a wise move. Here is a look at some tight ends the Saints should have on their radar:
1. Orson Charles TE, Georgia, 6’3″ 250 lbs: If the Saints are coveting a tight end then they should definitely use their first pick (in the 3rd round) to draft Charles. Charles is a bit undersized for an NFL tight end but he might be the best available for the Saints in the draft. Charles possesses great speed for a tight end and as the tight ends are evolving into speedsters that could definitely help him on the next level. Furthermore, Charles has great hands and is very durable. His speed can create mismatches for linebackers and safeties and could prove to be an excellent red zone target. During his time with Georgia he accumulated 1,370 yards on 94 receptions with 10 touchdowns; his best year came last season when he had 574 yards on 45 receptions with 5 touchdowns. Charles is one of the strongest tight ends in this draft class and could turn out to be a very good blocker thus complementing pro-bowl receiver Jimmy Graham. Charles might be a long shot for the Saints but if the Saints are serious about drafting a tight end and if Charles is available they have to draft him.
2. Ladarius Green TE, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6’6″ 237 lbs: Green is probably the main tight end prospect on the Saints’ radar. It was reported that Green had a private workout with the Saints, as well as some other teams. There is a lot to like about Green, first and foremost his size; standing at 6’6″ he is the ideal size for an NFL tight end. Green’s stock has risen lately since he had a good combine and it might be tough for the Saints to get him with their 3rd round pick. However, if the Saints can get him he would be a nice pick-up and take some of the pressure of star tight end, Jimmy Graham. Green would be a project for any team that drafts him but he would be well worth the wait for the Saints. The Saints would not need him to come in and play heavy minutes since they do have Graham. Also, Green would have to put on some more weight at the next level if he wants to be an all-around tight end, but with his speed he does have the ability to play some wide receiver too.
3. Evan Rodriguez TE, Temple, 6’3″ 250 lbs: Rodriguez played 3 seasons at Temple and led the team in receiving last season with 35 receptions for 479 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rodriguez has good size for a tight end even though he is a bit undersized. He would be a good fit for the Saints because he is a quality blocker and could help open up the field for the running game and other receivers. Furthermore, with his size and speed some say that he might be better suited to be a running back in the NFL. I think if the Saints draft him they will get a competent tight end that also has some versatility with him. I think this would be a safe pick because even if he does not work at tight end at least the Saints can experiment with him at running back. Also, the Saints would not need to use their 3rd round pick to get him as he would probably be available in the 4th or 5th round.
4. Micheal Egnew, TE, Missouri, 6’5″ 252 lbs: Egnew is a solid prospect and boasts a great frame for a tight end on the next level. Besides his size Egnew also has tremendous athletic ability and uses it to his advantage. During his career with Missouri, where he spent all 4 years of college, Egnew posted totals of 147 receptions, 1,332 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Egnew is not the fastest tight end but he runs routes very well and excels at making cuts and getting open for a pass. However, Egnew has decent hands and will need to improve on not dropping passes when he gets to the next level. Also, he is not that great of a blocker and that is definitely something he needs to improve on to be a better rounded tight end. If the Saints choose to draft him they should be able to get him in the 4th or 5th round. Egnew would be a safe pick because the Saints can get him later in the draft and his size and athleticism offers a lot of upside.
5. Chase Ford, TE, Miami, 6’6″ 258 lbs: Ford’s stock has risen due to a good outing during the East-West Shrine and the Saints should be able to get him in the 6th or 7th round if they choose to draft him. Ford only played 2 seasons at Miami and had totals 16 receptions, 184 yards, with 2 touchdowns. Ford is a project to say the least, but there are some positives about him. Ford is one of the biggest tight end prospects in this year’s draft and he has good athletic ability. Furthermore, Ford has decent speed which is a plus given his frame. However, blocking is a weakness for Ford and something he really needs to work on. For now if the Saints are looking for a tight end in the late rounds they should grab Ford if he’s still there. Also, the Saints have had success with tight ends from Miami before; look at what Jimmy Graham has done in his first 2 NFL seasons.
2012 NFL Mock Draft: 5 Tight Ends The New Orleans Saints Should Take A Look At