2009 Draft Countdown: Tight Ends

With the 2009 NFL draft only days away, we offer our extensive position-by-position breakdown. Each report includes an analysis of the Dolphins' status at the position, the likelihood of a draft pick being spent at the position, a look at which prospects the Dolphins have worked out or visited with, a list of the top prospects, and the sleepers. We continue with the tight ends.

Where the Dolphins stand: There was a lot of criticism about the wide receiver corps last season, but it was hard to complain about the work of tight ends. Despite the absence of an Antonio Gates or a Tony Gonzalez on the roster, the Dolphins set a new franchise record for receiving yards by the position with 926 and the total of 11 touchdowns matched the best showing in team history. Anthony Fasano proved quite a find and he led the team with seven touchdown receptions. David Martin rebounded after a poor 2007 season and made a lot of plays down the field. For good measure, the Dolphins look like they might have found a keeper in Joey Haynos, a rookie who was signed after being released by Green Bay. Those three are the only tight ends on the roster.

Likelihood of the Dolphins using a pick at the position: Based on the players coming back, it's not a high priority at all, but just keep in mind that both Fasano and Martin are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the 2009 season. This isn't a high priority, but perhaps the Dolphins might go for a tight end if there's one who's just too good to pass up at some point in the draft.

The top prospects: 1. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State; 2. Jared Cook, South Carolina; 3. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss; 4. Cornelius Ingram, Florida; 5. Chase Coffman, Missouri; 6. James Casey, Rice; 7. Travis Beckum, Wisconsin; 8. Cameron Morrah, California; 9. Richard Quinn, North Carolina; 10. Dan Gronkowski, Maryland

Summary: The big story at this position is the number of high-profile prospects coming off significant injuries. That includes Chase Coffman, who sustained a foot injury on Missouri's last offensive play of the Alamo Bowl and hasn't been able to work out for scouts this spring, and Cornelius Ingram, who missed Florida's run to the national title because of a torn ACL. You can also throw in that group Wisconsin's Travis Beckum, a pass-catching specialist in the mold of 2008 first-round pick Dustin Keller. There's no Tony Gonzalez in this group, but Pettigrew, Cook and Nelson also should be drafted before the end of the second round.

Sleepers: Jared Bronson, Central Washington; Zach Miller, Nebraska-Omaha, J'Nathan Bullock, Cleveland State (basketball player)

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