Houston selected Owen Daniels in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft, and many felt the Texans reached too far when they took him there. (Don't be too quick to criticize those who felt that way, either.) Daniels lined up at quarterback, wide receiver and tight end during his collegiate career and weighed just 253 pounds, raising concerns about his ability to develop into an every-down tight end. In addition, he had sustained two serious knee injuries -- both on his left knee.
That said, Houston obviously did well to select him at the top of the fourth round; Daniels has started 44 of the 46 games in which he has appeared and went to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement last year. Plus, Daniels' production has steadily improved during the course of his first three seasons in the league. There's little reason to believe he won't continue to improve with time.
Here are three tight ends from well-known schools and one small-school prospect who are expected to come off the board on Day 2 of the 2009 draft. These players could prove to be steals just like Daniels. I include possible landing spots for all four.
John Phillips, Virginia
Phillips doesn't have the second gear teams look for in situational receiving tight ends. At 253 pounds, he isn't an overwhelming drive-blocker, either. That said, there's much to like about his upside. The 6-foot-5 Phillips has room on his frame to bulk up without losing any agility and adequate upper-body strength, so he's capable of developing into an efficient blocker. Although he drops a few passes he should catch, Phillips also has the big hands to improve in that area and is athletic enough to develop into an effective short-to-intermediate route-runner.
The Giants did well to pick Kevin Boss in the fifth round of the 2007 draft; he has quickly developed into an effective starter. There are more questions than answers when it comes to New York's depth behind him. In addition, Boss may be a better No. 2 option than every-down player. Meanwhile, Phillips would immediately improve depth and give the Giants a better insurance policy should Boss miss time with an injury. He also could push Boss for playing time two or three years down the road.