Scouting the top TE prospects

As part of our series previewing the NFL draft, we examine the top prospects at every position. This installment features the tight ends.

Overall class strength: Relative to other years, there is not a position in the draft as good as this one. There not only is top-end talent at tight end, led by stud prospect Vernon Davis of Maryland, but there's also a lot of depth. Don't be surprised if as many as six tight ends get picked in the first two rounds.

The best: Vernon Davis, Maryland; Leonard Pope, Georgia; Joe Klopfenstein, Colorado; Marcedes Lewis, UCLA; Anthony Fasano, Notre Dame; Dominique Byrd, USC.

The next wave: David Thomas, Texas; Tim Day, Oregon; Tony Scheffler, Western Michigan; T.J. Williams, N.C. State.

Possible sleepers: Daniel Fells, Cal-Davis; Jai Lewis, George Mason.

First-round projections: Davis, Pope.

Quick hits: Davis, whose nickname is "The Duke," set a scouting combine record for tight ends by running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. ... Lewis is a starter on the George Mason basketball team that shocked everyone and reached the Final Four. ... USC's Byrd is a gifted athlete but he battled numerous injuries (toe, knee, jaw) in college. ... Pope followed NFL draft picks Randy McMichael and Ben Watson as Georgia's starting tight end. ... Thomas doesn't have great size or speed, but he caught 10 Vince Young passes in Texas' Rose Bowl victory over USC.

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