There have been a lot of articles written about the dearth of first-round running backs selected of late. But the reality is that more running backs were taken in the first round than quarterbacks over the last decade.
If you want a position truly underrepresented in the first round, tight end is the better pick. We haven't seen two tight ends taken in the first round since 2006, and we probably won't see any taken that high in 2012, for a second consecutive season.
Here are ATL's best first-round tight end picks over the last 10 years. As always, we are basing the ranking on past performance with future expectations mixed in. We discussed our best quarterback and running back picks previously.
1. Vernon Davis, 49ers (No. 6, 2006)
2. Dallas Clark, Colts (No. 24, 2003)
3. Heath Miller, Steelers (No. 30, 2005)
4. Kellen Winslow, Browns (No. 6. 2004)
5. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (No. 20, 2009)
6. Jeremy Shockey, Giants (No. 14, 2002)
7. Dustin Keller, Jets (No. 30, 2008)
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (No. 28, 2006)
9. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (No. 21, 2010)
10. Daniel Graham, Patriots (No. 21, 2002)
11. Greg Olsen, Bears (No. 31, 2007)
12. Ben Watson, Patriots (No. 32, 2004)
13. Jerramy Stevens, (No. 28, 2002)
The bust rate of first-round tight ends over the last decade is exceptionally low. Guys like Lewis, Gresham, and Graham were good picks; solid starters. Watson is second-to-last on this list, but even he was a reasonably productive player.
Based on some of the recent gems at tight end in the draft (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley), perhaps tight end is a position that remains undervalued by NFL evaluators.