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NFL Draft Preview: Tight Ends

Redskins.com previews the NFL Draft position-by-position, with a focus on some of the top rookie prospects available in the April 29-30 NFL Draft. Friday: Tight ends.

With the addition of Al Saunders to the Redskins' coaching staff, the tight end H-back position is expected to undergo change. Saunders' scheme is expected to employ a more traditional tight end--and Chris Cooley is poised to enter 2006 as the starter after a stellar season last year in which he caught 71 passes for 774 yards and seven TDs.

The Redskins signed veteran Christian Fauria from New England to back up at tight end and the team also has young players Robert Johnson and Calen Powell to round out the tight end position.

Depending on how well Johnson and Powell have developed, there's a good chance that the Redskins could target tight end in the draft. Fauria is 34 years old, so coaches may want to bring in a young tight end to develop while serving as a backup.

Redskins Draft History: The Redskins have never selected a tight end in the first round of the NFL Draft. The highest the Redskins have ever selected a tight end is the second round, in 1998, when the team chose Stephen Alexander from Oklahoma.

Top Prospects

Davis has emerged as an elite player in the draft and his strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine solidified his status as a top 10 pick. Davis has a burst of speed in the open field--he is a deep ball threat --and his 6-3, 252-pound frame should create mismatches for an NFL passing attack. He led the Terrapins with 51 catches for 871 yards and six touchdowns last season.

At 6-7 and 250 pounds, Pope should develop into a force as a blocking tight end, but he also has great receiving skills. He led the Bulldogs with 39 catches for 541 yards last season, and also added four touchdown receptions. It is expected that Pope will be selected late in the first round or early in the second.

#### Second-Round Prospects

Lewis is a solid route-runner and pass receiver who led the Bruins with 58 receptions for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 6-5 and 254 pounds, he has ideal size, but some scouts believe he'll need to develop more as a blocking tight end.

Like Davis, Klopfenstein has solid speed and good size, but some scouts think he needs to improve his blocking. He is a blue collar-type of player, with solid smarts and work ethic, who scouts say could be great value in the second round. Last season, he had 33 catches for 468 touchdowns and four touchdowns.

Byrd was a complementary part of the high-powered USC offense last year, logging 29 catches for 306 yards. Those numbers were a drop-off from previous seasons, one reason why the 6-2, 260-pounder is expected to slip to the second round, or possibly the third.

Fasano is a tough-minded player who played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame, logging 47 catches for 576 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-5 and 255 pounds, he is regarded as the best blocking tight end available in the draft.

Late-Round Possibilities

King developed into a solid red zone threat for the Hokies, finishing last season with 26 catches, six for touchdowns. The 6-4, 260-pounder should be a late-round draft pick because he also plays on special teams.

A solid receiving tight end, Thomas led the Longhorns with 50 catches for 613 yards and five touchdowns last season. But he is thought to be somewhat light at 6-2 and 236 pounds.

The 6-3, 262-pound Wallace played with Jason Campbell at Auburn. He caught 20 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown last season.

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Other TEs to Watch

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