2012 NFL Draft: On Coby Fleener and how high his stock can soar

Just how valuable is a tight end in today's NFL?

Guys like Rob Gronkowski have created a hysteria for physically dominant tight ends that can create mismatches for opposing defenses. In a league that leans heavily on the pass, tight ends have played an increased role those formations, especially with the success New England has had running two-tight end sets with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Despite that, tight ends still don't fly off the board in the first round. Generally, one or two earn the high praise of a first round draft choice, and last season, no tight end was selected in round one. There are simply too many solid receiving tight ends to make it a valuable enough position for the first round.

But there are rare exceptions, and this year, Coby Fleener might be that exception.

At 6-feet-6-inches tall and 247 pounds, the former Stanford tight end ran a blazing time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, notching a time somewhere in the 4.4 range depending on who you ask.

Regardless of where in the 4.4 range Fleener's time was and the fact that it may have been aided by the wind, that type of speed is incredible for a man his size. Having already checked out as a fringe first-round prospect on tape, Fleener's workouts are sure to boost his stock. In a relatively weak tight end class, Fleener appears to be a lock to be the first player at his position off the board, and that very well could come in the first round.

A handful of teams sitting at the bottom of the first round would seemingly love to add a quality tight end to the roster. Fleener isn't quite talented enough to land in the top ten picks, but with teams like the 49ers and Giants potentially interested at the bottom of the first, it wouldn't surprise me to see a team jump back into the first round to grab him.

It would be surprising if Fleener fell to the second round at this point.

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