It seems to me that a ton of people are obsessing about getting a TE that we can "line up in the slot." How many offenses in the NFL even do that?! Indi, SD, SF, NE, KC are the only teams that do that on a regular basis and it's because they can. You don't do that unless you have an exceptionally athletic TE. But you don't have to put the TE in the slot to create mismatches or open up the passing game. Size and speed pale in comparison to the importance of physicality and route-running at the TE position. Jason Whitten, Tony Gonzalez, Alge Crumpler, Bubba Franks, Todd Heap, Heath Miller, and Zach Miller are not blazing fast guys. But they were all very productive playing TE last season. I think we all know by now that Robert Royal runs terrible routes and Michael Gaines had inconsistent hands and penalties. Kevin Everett may have been the answer, but now we have to start over.
If we draft a TE all I want is a nasty guy with good hands and good route running. Who fits the Bill?
Well... I think the Bills would be smart to put themselves in a position to grab one of these guys:
a)Fred Davis - best route-runner of the group, is the safest pick in this draft. His only drawback is that he gets knocked in his reviews for being an average blocker.
b)Dustin Keller - best athlete of the group which makes him very intriguing. Has that YAC ability everybody loves. Could be a Kellen Winslow type, but not much of a factor as a blocker.
c)John Carlson - Maybe the most complete prospect as he's regarded as a very good blocker. He runs excellent routes, second only to Davis. However, he's the worst athlete of this group and may not be able to force defenses to adjust their drops.
d)Martellus Bennett - another intriguing guy. By far has the best size of these... and will more than likely be an excellent blocker at the next level. He's really physical and has good ball skills, but is the worst route-runner of the 4.
Based on these assessments, I really have no idea which one of these players I would choose (if I had my pick). They all have qualities that you want and look for, but I would have to prioritize their receiving ability because we already have good blocking TEs (Royal, Massaquoi, Neufeld if he's resigned). I'll admit Dustin Keller catches my eye the most because of his athleticism, and just look at what guys like Antonio Gates and Kellen Winlsow do for their passing games. I think Fred Davis would fall under the category of an Alge Crumpler or Bubba Franks, guys that are not game-breakers but are reliable and consistent. Then it's a toss-up between Bennett and Carlson. They are both very similar players, Carlson being the more polished... that said, Bennett probably has more up-side/potential.
I would really hate to be the one who makes these decisions at OBD because it's not even easy being an armchair GM. As of right now I would give Dustin Keller the nod in the 2nd round. If we can get him and a WR in the 1st or 3rd, our offense will receive a much needed shot of youth, athleticism, and talent.