When to draft a tight end?

Even presumptive starter Brent Celek assumes the Eagles will take at least one tight end among the 12 selections they hold in the April 25-26 draft.

“I think they have to — you only have [journeyman veteran Matt] Schobel and me,” Celek said. “With this offense, you need three tight ends. Who knows where that will be? That’s their decision.”

If the Eagles really believe in Celek as a starter, they won’t reach for a tight end with one of their two first-round picks. Many observers think Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew is the only first-round-worthy tight end talent in this draft.

There are several decent tight ends who could complement/understudy Celek, likely to be available later in the draft. Most of them aren’t strong blockers, however. The proliferation of spread offenses in college seems to have turned the position into a haven for oversized wideouts.

Where the Eagles select a tight end will depend on when a player they covet is available, but also where they rank tight end among their list of needs. Our Paul Domowitch is virtually certain the Eagles will take a running back in the first round. Les Bowen suggests it will be an offensive lineman.

According to nfldraftcountdown.com, these are the top five tight ends available ...

1. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State

2. Jared Cook, South Carolina (the Eagles were reportedly among the teams that worked him out after his Pro Day last week).

3. James Casey, Rice

4. Chase Coffman, Missouri

5. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss.

The site has its top four tight ends ranked in the top 64 players (first two rounds). Pettigrew is 30th, Cook 47th, Cofmann 50th and Casey 52nd.

For more on Celek, click here.