NFL executives tend to blame the invasion of spread offenses in college football for the lack of quality tight ends available in recent drafts. Do they have an argument? Of course.
The increased popularity of the spread has directly coincided with the downward trend of tight ends selected in recent NFL drafts. Over the past few years, the total number of tight ends drafted has fallen from 19 in 2007 to 12 in 2009.
Don't expect the trend to shift in 2009. Several national-title contenders plan on featuring their tight ends prominently on offense. In fact, four of the top seven teams in the AP Top 25 are armed with difference-makers at the position.
Here's a look at how No. 1 Florida, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 USC and No. 7 Virginia Tech will incorporate their respective playmakers at tight end:
For a look at the tight ends from the teams listed above, as well as Scouts Inc.'s picks as the best overall and pass-catching tight ends, become an ESPN Insider.