When the Baltimore Ravens drafted tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in the 3rd and 4th round respectively, of the 2010 NFL Draft, fans questioned the decision-making of GM Ozzie Newsome and his staff. After all, the team still had veteran Todd Heap on the roster, right?
In addition, that draft was chock full of quality tight ends, as the New England Patriots took both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez ahead of them and the New Orleans Saints grabbed Jimmy Graham in that same draft.
The Ravens released Todd Heap, who later signed with the Arizona Cardinals, but the combination of injuries and obscurity basically ended his NFL career once he left Baltimore.
The Patriots pair was generally lauded as the best in football and while Dickson was drafted a round ahead of Pitta, Dennis quickly became the more solid of the two and QB Joe Flacco's best friend on the team. Although Pitta has become Joe's clear choice, Dickson came up big with a couple key catches in the team's 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Meanwhile, up in New England, Gronkowski has had some off-the-field issues related to questionable behavior based on poor decision-making when cameras always seemed to be around. Considered among the best tight end in the NFL, injuries were the only things to slow him down and it looks like it could keep him off the field when the season begins in a little over two months.
However, the Patriots weren't too worried, as Hernandez wasn't far behind Gronkowski in terms of skills and could easily step into the role as QB Tom Brady's favorite target. Unfortunately, Hernandez has been implicated in a brutal murder, arrested and immediately released by the Patriots this week.
This could leave New England without either of their two huge targets in their explosive passing attack and now must look down the depth chart to the third and fourth string to shore up that position.
All of a sudden, the Ravens tight end duo is looking pretty good, both on the field and in the "character" department. A related story from Rant Sports, details that the Ravens have won the tight end war with the Patriots based on these recent developments. While there might be a legitimate debate on the comparison of abilities of the four players, it's tough to argue when the Patriots pair is not able to step onto the field to prove their point.
What happens with Gronkowski's injury and Hernandez' legal issue remains to be seen, it currently appears that Pitta and Dickson could definitely making the bigger impact on the field in 2013, and perhaps even long beyond this season.