First look at 2012 NFL draft tight ends

When evaluating tight ends, it is important to consider all aspects of their games -- separation skills, ball skills, big-play ability, competitiveness and blocking. With our initial 2012 NFL draft board completed, here's how we rank the top tight ends by skill set (draft-eligible underclassmen denoted with an asterisk), as well as a look at how we rank all prospects with a draftable grade, market trends at the position and 2011 Day 1 tight end picks.

Separation skills
The challenge when evaluating a tight end's separation skills is to sift through variables, which include supporting cast, offensive system and the types of defensive coverage and level of competition he faces. While there's no exact formula, some of the key ingredients include recognition skills, initial burst, change-of-direction skills and competitiveness.