With Tony Gonzalez's retirement seemingly imminent, the high-flying Atlanta Falcons offense seems to be missing one huge piece as the backup tight ends on the team, Chase Coffman and Michael Palmer, combined for seven receptions and 33 yards in 2012.
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On Friday, both of ESPN's NFL Draft gurus, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, released updated mock drafts and addressed the Falcons' tight end need, although the two didn't agree on who that particular player would be. In McShay's mock draft, it was the top-rated tight end off the board: Stanford's Zach Ertz.
Future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez has announced he will retire, and Ertz is the top-rated tight end on our board. He doesn't have elite speed, but he is a good athlete who knows how to separate from coverage, and can make tough catches over his head and in traffic.
Kiper also ranked Ertz as the first tight end to come off the board, although he didn't agree on the landing spot. The Stanford product that finished with 898 yards receiving and six touchdowns in his senior season went 11 picks earlier to the New York Giants. Instead, in his mock, the second ranked tight end on Kiper's board landed with the Falcons: Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.
If all the begging pays off, and Tony Gonzalez does in fact return in 2013, the presence of Eifert would still be valuable. If Gonzalez is back, you add a player that can contribute immediately, who can be moved all over the formation and along with Julio Jones and Roddy White, cause matchup problems for defenses in multiple ways. If Gonzalez does come back, Eifert gets a year to learn from the master, and contribute plenty in the mean time. The Falcons do need help with the pass rush, but it would be hard to pass on Eifert at this spot with the presumption that Gonzalez is headed for retirement.
Eifert finished his senior season with 685 yards receiving and four touchdowns. The Falcons finished the 2012 season with the No. 8 offense and No. 6 passing offense; however, wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White combined for a staggering 1,549 yards and 17 touchdowns.