If you’ve been inside any of NFL.com’s mock draft’s lately you’ve likely noticed the anomaly of Rob Gronkowski’s draft position. Gronk is being taken as high as the first round (12 team league) and is almost always off the board in the top 15 picks, with fellow 2011 break out performance TE Jimmy Graham being picked 6-10 slots later. This meteoric rise (Graham and Gronkowski were both 11th-14th rounders in last years drafts) is of course thanks to Monster seasons from the two talented TE that put their fantasy numbers among highest for WR, leaving most of their own position in the dust.

Obviously both guys seem to be in line for big season’s again this year, but can they repeat the same level of dominance over their fellow Tight Ends? You have to expect there will be at least some fall off, especially considering the new acquisitions for New England (WR’s Gaffney and Lloyd) and the rough off season in New Orleans (bounty scandal, and Brees’ contract.) But personal fall off isn’t my biggest concern with taking either TE so early, it’s the potential for the competition to close the gap.

Vernon Davis has always been one of Alex Smith’s favorite targets and with new WR’s taking pressure off him in SF, he could be in line for a big year.

Antonio Gates had to suffer through a very rough season from Phillip Rivers, and assuming this is a bounce back year for the Chargers, Gates will be in place to add to his numbers.

Jason Witten should be putting up solid numbers and picking up a few of the touchdowns that went to Laurent Robinson last year.

Fred Davis has a rookie QB and should have an extra 4 games this year if he stays out of trouble.

Greg Olsen no longer has Jeremy Shockey to compete with for catches and should be in for an expanded role in Cam Newton’s second year.

Jermaine Gresham likewise stands to benefit from his QB’s second year. Teams will be rolling coverage A.J. Green’s way and that could open up the middle for Gresham.

Tony Moeaki is back from injury and showed himself to be one of Matt Cassel’s favorite target’s two years ago, and could likewise benefit from defense’s using extra attention on Dwayne Bowe and/or Jon Baldwin.

Jared Cooke was one of Jake Locker’s favorite tagets down the stretch and could be in for a huge year if Locker wins the QB battle.

Owen Daniels saw the departure of his back-up Joel Dreessen as well as WR Jacoby jones which could mean extra looks for him, especially if Andre Johnson misses a few weeks.

Jacob Tamme has been reunited with Peyton Manning in Denver.

Coby Fleener got to join his college QB in Indy. He’s a guy luck trusts and even though he’s been working out with the second team at TE he should get plenty of playing time, (probably even get split out wide a bit with limited depth at WR) and red zone targets.

Aaron Hernandez could suffer more from the addition of Gaffney and Lloyd, potentially limiting the number of two TE sets. Josh McDaniels is also back as OC and the whole two TE format wasn’t really his thing, so I’m curious to see how training camp unfolds.


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