Overvaluing Tight Ends in the NFL

Sorry Vernon, you are overrated.

Sorry Vernon. You are overrated.

The Browns will be getting a second round draft pick this year, and a fifth round pick in the 2010 draft for tight end Kellen Winslow.  As a precedent, the New Orleans Saints gave up a second- and a fifth-round pick for Jeremy Shockey.  What do we learn from this?

Well, for starters, if you draft a TE in the first round then you are an idiot.  Seriously.  It’s like buying a new car, they lose their value as soon as you drive them off the lot.  If a Pro-Bowl TE isn’t worth trading a first-round pick, then no TE is worth drafting in the first round.  Sorry San Francisco, that pick you spent on Vernon Davis?  You overpaid.  Any team looking at Brandon Pettigrew with their first rounder – you have been warned.

I know, I can already hear you – those two players had other baggage and an injury history. Fair enough. So what about Antonio Gates?  Would you give a first round pick for him?  How about Jason Witten?  Certainly not Tony Gonzalez at this point in his career.  Sure, the all-time greats you would give up a first round pick for in their prime.  I bet you would have given up a first round pick for Kellen Winslow Sr.  Probably would have done the same for a young Gonzalez.  However, for a top-five all-time-at-his-position player, I bet many teams would be willing to give up more than one first-round pick. Would you trade a couple of first-round picks for John Elway?  How about Joe Montana?  I’d forego multiple top picks for Walter Payton.  But for a TE?  Not so much.

So there you have it. According to the trade value chart, Kellen Winslow is worth between 417.4 and 433 points depending on where Tampa Bay finishes this year.  Your worst first round pick?  Five hundred and ninety points.

Now watch us grab Pettigrew with the fifth overall pick…

  • http://www.NoLogoNeeded.com Don_NoLogoNeeded.com

    I was thinking about this after the Browns shipped Winslow last week. Having a dynamic TE that is tough match up with is fun, in theory, but how important is it to a team’s offensive success?

    Answer: Nothing.

    Run the football. Protect the quarterback. Have that quarterback know what he’s doing.

    TE? It’s way down on the list of importance. I’d take 100 Aaron Shea’s over another flashy TE like Winslow.

  • Boomhauer

    You’d need 100 Aaron Shea’s because they would always be hurt.

  • bobby

    While I agree with the article, Don you stretched a little too far. Winslow is a far better TE the shea would ever be. The knock with K2 is he didn’t block as well, and ok. But K2 provided you with a 3rd or 4th WR at the TE position. I dont think the browns used K2 as well as he should have, because he should have been in the slot a few times, maybe with Heiden at TE, i dont know. Point is, with a versatile player like he is the browns needed to use him more then just a TE, because he is more then that.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig


    One thing we know for sure is that Romeo Crennel and staff didn’t use the talent they did have all that well. Just ask Cribbs, Jerome Harrison, etc. Don’t ask Willie McGinest, though. He thinks Romeo used his talent effectively.

  • Pugs117

    Love the article. Alot of pass catching TE cant do one important thing and that is run block. I would rather have a reliable blocker with good hands (Heiden) then a player like Windslow who is a freak that doesnt block. Tamba Bay have fun giving him a huge contract that he is not worth.

    I was one of the peole who wanted Winslow when we drafted him in the first round, but over the years i have realized It sould be o-line and defense in the 1st unless there is a must have rb like LT or AP. Skill players come in the later rounds.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    Winslow is/was unique, because he’s a guy that’s too big for a DB to cover and too fast for a LB to cover. But, at this point on this team, they’re probably better off with the picks, because a player like that is a nice luxury to have on a team that’s already largely in place.

    The Browns are far from that.

    As I said last week, though: the risk you run is that none of us has any idea how well/poorly this new regime will use its draft picks, and we really truly won’t be able to evaluate this trade for two or three years down the road.

    Which sucks.

  • Scotty P

    Lucky us that Tampa has 50 mill in cap space to over pay players who want to have there contracts redone.

  • BB

    I’ll agree that the role of the TE has significantly diminished since the 80s (see Ozzie Newsome). What this article really did make me think about is what do you do with a weapon like K2 nowadays? Say hypothetically he never messed his knee up, he would be a matchup nightmare that linebackers couldn’t cover and cornerbacks couldn’t tackle. So, if the TE position is best filled with a blocker/occasional pass catcher, what do you do with a guy like K2? Have him line up in the slot or coming out of the backfield? How do you best utilize him?