Combine sparks more questions with TEs

With the tight end position ranking among the Patriots' top needs, the status of some of the top prospects in the NFL draft bears watching in the weeks to come.

Understanding that the NFL combine is only a small part of the evaluation process, there were some notable developments with the group that require follow-ups before the draft (May 8-10).

"The tight ends were a little disappointing," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock opined on Sunday. "They were beat up a little bit from some injury stuff with them."

A rundown:

Eric Ebron (North Carolina) -- The consensus top player at the position among draft analysts, Ebron clocked a solid 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, although some (including Ebron himself) thought he'd run faster than that. Ebron also didn't participate in any drills because of a minor injury.

Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) -- A 4.74 time in the 40-yard dash surprised Mayock, who thought Amaro would run in the 4.5s. Amaro also had a few dropped passes in drills that led Mayock to say he wanted to go back and watch more tape of him.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) -- A foot injury kept him out of drills.

Troy Niklas (Notre Dame) -- At about 80 percent health, he didn't run the 40-yard dash but did participate in other drills.

So for teams looking to clarify parts of the picture among top tight end prospects, the NFL combine only produced more questions.

The biggest benefactor of that seemed to be Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz, who was viewed by media-based analysts as the No. 5 tight end entering the combine. He showed well.