GM profiling: Graves and the tight ends

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals could use a tight end versatile enough to stay on the field across running and passing situations. They settled on Stephen Spach as a blocking tight end last season.

Spach made an important catch against the Falcons in the wild-card playoff round, but he isn't a consistent downfield threat in the passing game -- particularly after suffering a torn knee ligament against the Panthers.

As much as the Cardinals could use a frontline tight end, I'm not sure they can afford to draft one early enough to find such a player. I see them targeting running back and outside linebacker in the first two rounds if the draft falls their way. If the Cardinals do wind up trading Anquan Boldin to Baltimore, perhaps they can get the Ravens to throw in Todd Heap. A thought.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves' teams generally haven't drafted tight ends early, anyway, and never higher than 72nd overall since Graves joined the Cardinals.

I spoke with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. for additional perspective on the Cardinals' options at tight end in this draft. A few of his thoughts:

  • "If they could get a Heath Miller type guy, that would be great. Third-round tight ends are fairly deep. In the third round, we have the Cardinals taking another outside linebacker/defensive end type in Brandon Williams. We did not give them a tight end.

  • "If the Cardinals are going to wait on a tight end until later in this draft, they're not going to find a complete guy. There is only one complete guy and that is [Brandon] Pettigrew. There are a bunch good at receiving and a bunch good at blocking.

  • "Here is a name, a potential fifth-round guy, late fourth: John Phillips from Virginia. Decent speed, good size. There is nothing he is dominant at. He worked out much better than we thought. We think there is a chance he develops into an every-down guy later. Anthony Hill from North Carolina St. Those are two names I would mark. Those are guys who could help them -- maybe not right away, but one or two years down the road."

  • "Looking at their needs and what they have done in the past, I'd be stunned if he [Graves] took a tight end in the first two rounds. Hill should not last much longer than Phillips."