Ranking the tight ends in the AFC West

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

We're continuing our periodic AFC West position rankings with the tight ends, kicking off the post-Tony Gonzalez era in the division.

We're ranking these players on combined receiving and blocking abilities.

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego: Gates and Gonzalez were always the best two tight ends in football, but now Gates is the best tight end in his division. If Gates can stay healthy, expect a huge season in 2009.

2. Zach Miller, Oakland: I'm giving Miller a slight edge over Daniel Graham. I think Miller can be one of the next wave of Pro Bowl tight ends. He is an outstanding receiving option. He is and needs to be the favorite target of Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

3. Daniel Graham, Denver: Astute football people know the true value of Graham. He is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. He is essentially another offensive lineman. He is also a decent receiving option when it counts.

4. Tony Scheffler, Denver: Scheffler is a field-stretching receiver who is a dangerous weapon. He can become a favorite target of Denver's new quarterback as he was for Jay Cutler.

5. Brandon Manumaleuna, San Diego: Manumaleuna is a strong blocking tight end, who is always there when the Chargers call upon him.

6. Brad Cottam, Kansas City: The second-year player will have a lot of pressure on him as he replaces Gonzalez. But Cottam is more of a blocker than a receiver, so don't expect Gonzalez-like numbers.