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TEs Clive Walford, Devin Funchess could intrigue New Orleans

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In a day of eye-opening events, the New Orleans Saints trading Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks has to rate at the top.

There's no way the Saints can adequately replace Graham, who caught at least 85 passes in each of the past four seasons, twice reached the 1,000-yard plateau in receiving yards and had 46 TD receptions in that span.


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Still, there are three tight ends in this draft who could intrigue New Orleans, most likely in the second and third rounds. Here is a look at the three.

1. Clive Walford, Miami

Walford (6-foot-4, 251) probably is the second-best tight end available, behind Minnesota's Maxx Williams, who really doesn't fit what the Saints want. Walford isn't worthy of a first-round selection, but he should be there when the Saints pick 12th in the second round (44th overall). NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has called Walford "the most explosive tight end in this year's draft." A potential selling point: UM coaches used Walford in a variety of roles -- in the slot, out wide and with his hand down as a "traditional" tight end -- and that almost certainly would appeal to the Saints. Walford was a three-year starter at Miami, and while he has some work to do as a blocker, would that bother the Saints? He can get down the seam and be a deep threat. And remember that Graham also is a UM alum.

2. Devin Funchess, Michigan

Funchess (6-4 1/4, 232) is listed as a wide receiver by most analysts, but he played that position for just one season and spent his first two years in Ann Arbor as a tight end. His 40 time at the combine was a disappointing 4.70 seconds -- but, truthfully, that time is far more disappointing for a wide receiver than a tight end. He remains raw as a receiver, but part of that might be that Michigan's passing attack wasn't all that proficient while he was there. Funchess was used outside and inside by Michigan coaches, and he often had success while in the slot. And when he was in the slot, he obviously was a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. There's some definite upside with Funchess, and he would be an interesting fit for the Saints with their second-round pick.

3. Rory "Busta" Anderson, South Carolina

Taking him in the second round would be a reach, but he could interest New Orleans in the third round. While he had just 61 career catches in his four seasons at South Carolina, Anderson (6-4 5/8, 244) has the skill set to be split wide and can cause mismatch issues. He has had injury problems, most notably with his triceps, but his athleticism gives him an upside. He remains raw but definitely could be molded into an interesting tight end.


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Potential third-day selections at tight end who could interest New Orleans include Louisville's Gerald Christian, who played against Walford in high school in Palm Beach County, Fla., and South Alabama's Wes Saxton, who was a high school teammate of Jameis Winston's in Hueytown, Ala.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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