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Last season, six receivers in the NFL found their way into the end zone more than ten times. Calvin Johnson — touchdown leader among wideouts — is accompanied by Jordy Nelson and Laurent Robinson, who were pleasant surprises for quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo. Those other two receivers? Matchup nightmares in the form of tight ends, and the reason Coby Fleener should be a top ten pick in Thursday night’s draft.

In the 2010 NFL draft Rob Gronkowski was selected by the Patriots in the second round, while Jimmy Graham was nabbed by the Saints a round later. After notching 28 combined touchdowns (17 for Gronk) There can’t be a GM out there who thinks a second or third round pick was too much or fair value. In hindsight, these two players affected the game as much as any others drafted in 2010.

There isn’t a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald-type wideout prospect in the draft this year. Justin Blackmon is certainly the most promising, but still not at the level that Johnson or Fitzgerald, or even sophomore wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones, are at.

Tight end Kellen Winslow II was the 6th overall pick in the 2004 draft, followed by tight end Vernon Davis as the 6th pick two years  later. However, their poor seasons, due to injuries, should not deter teams from drafting  similar athletic, playmaking tight ends high in this year’s draft.

There is, however, a player in the mold of the Gronks and Grahams of the world. Enter: Coby Fleener.  While just an average blocker, Fleener is an exceptional talent with intangibles to boot.  Possessing big play skills, Fleener has been priming himself in Andrew Luck-led Stanford offense. The Stanford duo may be held intact, with Fleener likely lasting until the early second round.
Barring a trade, the Carolina Panthers will have the ninth selection of the draft.  While the defensive line could use some work, the Panthers organization needs to continue to invest in quarterback Cam Newton’s receiving arsenal. Fleener would greatly complement the dual-threat Newton. Fleener should be taken by Carolina in the first round on Thursday.

McAndrew is a member of the class of 2014.

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