Posted by Frazier
Time for the tight ends to get some love around here. Although, it's not like we're the kind of guys to deny the big men the respect they deserve. I've already broken downs some fullbacks, so now it is time for the tight ends. However, my list is decidedly different from my colleague's. Most notably, I didn't bend or break the rules. So only players over the last twenty years; Dave Casper doesn't count, and he doesn't get to carry ND to the win. As pointed out, many of the truly great TE's from this era came from small schools, which clearly only produced one pro, so the options are somewhat limited. But these are the rules, and I am going to play by them. Here's what you find out when you follow the parameters:
Special Honorable Mention:
Washington. The Huskies have a lot more going for them then I ever would have expected. In fact, over the past twenty years they have produced a startling seven serviceable tight ends (Mark Bruener, Ernie Conwell, Jerramy Stevens, Cam Cleeland, Aaron Pierce, Rod Jones and Eric Bjornson). None of the names really leap out at you, and they don't have a single pro bowl among them. However, that is an impressive number of pros, and further proof that something interesting has been brewing in the northwest, and I'm not talking coffee or grunge.
Miami. They have produced four solid pros (Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Alfredo Roberts), who have combined for six pro bowls (Shockey, Franks). They have tons of room for improvement since Bubba Franks still has a couple of good years left, Shockey has some time to live up to his hype, and Winslow finally has a chance to try to justify his own over-inflated ego. Also, Greg Olsen has a chance to be a special player. So the U can probably only go up from here.
Maryland. Sort of the opposite of Miami. Tons less hype, but solid production. A more than respectable six solid pros (Frank Wycheck, Vernon Davis, Ferrell Edmunds, Eric Sievers, John Tice and Mike Tice) with the estimable Frank Wycheck leading the way. While none of these guys are awe-inspiring, Vernon Davis has the chance to be a special player, and collectively the Terps have staked out some territory in the in the tight end debate.
It's BYU. The Mormons greatest product is Todd Christensen, who just barely made our time restraints. He went to five straight pro bowls, won a Super Bowl, and had the incredible distinction of leading the NFL in receptions in 1983 AND 1986, as a tight end. Frankly, a remarkable feat. He is joined by Chad Lewis, who has made a pair of pro bowls, and has been the only reliable receiver for a team that made four straight NFC Championship games. Doug Jolley and Itula Mili have both had solid careers and add quality depth to the BYU side. BYU has garnered tons of attention for the college success of their quarterbacks, but it turns out that when you are looking for professional success, it's the tight ends that really deserve the accolades.