Top 10 Tight Ends in the NFL

Now that the NFL Draft is over, we are in for about three months of pure speculation and debate. In a good way to add fuel to the fire, we will go through every position and rank the top ten players at each position. Before making the rankings, first it should be clarified how these players are ranked. These aren’t players with the best statistics from last year, or with the best teams around them. It isn’t the best play per contract, or the young but unestablished vs. old and experienced debate. It is more so a projection of talent and determining that if a game was in two weeks, and I had to pick a player to be on my team, who would I take over the other. It comes down to a gut opinion, but having watched nearly every snap of the NFL in the past two years via NFL Game Pass I do have confidence in my opinions. At the end of the day it is another discussion of debate so check it out and let me know what you think. For the first position will go with the most important in quarterback.1. Rob Gronkowski 

There is really no one who can dispute Gronkowski as the easy top tight end in the league. Tyler Eifert did catch more touchdown passes, but still had 20 less catches, and about 500 less yards than Gronk. That is not to mention that Gronkowski is probably the best blocking tight end in the NFL. The way that teams have to adjust their defense to figure out where he is on every single play can show to how valuable he is, and on offense it is tough to argue that there is a more valuable offensive player in the league.

2. Tyler Eifert

Eifert was not the go-to guy in the Bengals offense, and he missed some time last year, but still he averaged over one touch down pass per start. He averaged over four catches per game, but the biggest factor for Eifert is that on a team that wanted to run first, he was an exceptional run blocker. The biggest debated with him will be durability, but when healthy it is only Gronkowski who poses as a bigger threat.

3. Greg Olsen

Olsen is probably a better receiving threat overall than Eifert and is more explosive after the catch for sure. However, where Eifert beats Olsen is in blocking. It is not like Olsen is below average, but he is closer to average than the likes of Gronkowski and Eifert. Still, he was the top receiving threat on a team that made the Super Bowl last year so if anything, the argument would be that he should be a bit higher on the list. 

4. Delanie Walker

Walker is probably the most underrated tight end in the league. To start, he lines up everywhere. From in the slot, to playing a full back type of position Walker will do it. Also last year, as the top threat on his team he put up ridiculous numbers. He caught 94 balls for 1088 yards, which is more catches than Gronkowski. He completed 70% of the passes that went his way last year, and given that he was already none as one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, it is safe to say he is deserving of his ranking.

5.Travis Kelce

Kelce saw a big increase in targets last year, which resulted in him becoming a clear top threat tight end. He caught 72 passes last year, and caught five touchdowns in his past two year. The Chiefs have had trouble getting him the ball down the field however. They tend to get him most of his work on screens and drags, and rely on Kelce and his freakish athletic ability to extend plays. While some of that can go to Alex Smith, and his inability to stretch the field, and can also show where Kelce needs work. He can get better at catching contested passes, and as a blocker still has a lot to learn. He is strong and powerful, but likes to be a receiving more, and is more of an effort blocker than a top notch blocker. 

6. Jimmy Graham 

It is probably a pretty decent knock to say that the Seahawks offense took off the minute Graham was hurt. To be fair, the offense was in year one of adding a major new piece, and was dealing with shifting the offense away from a Marshawn Lynch dominated one. Still, he saw 37 catch drop off, and saw 51 less targets in five less games than the year before. He also would be hands down the worst blocker of any of the five names above him. When healthy and when in an offense that can play to his skills, this is still an elite talent. His overall game is limited, but his red zone ability and ability to run with the ball after the catch is an ability that can still only be compared to Gronkowski. However, in 2016 Graham will have more to prove than probably anybody on the list. 

7. Jordan Reed

Reed is a player who always had the talent to be a top threat, but his injury history has hindered his ceiling. He is basically still one concussion away from having to call his career a wrap, but at only 25 years old, and coming off of an 87 catch year, the arrow is pointing up. It should be mentioned the catch number was in fourteen appearances and only nine starts. He is hardly going to be a blocker in Washington, as they have depth at tight end, and blockers behind him, but as a big body who lines up typically in the slot there is hardly a better safety blanket. 

8. Martellus Bennett

Bennett joining Gronkowski in New England this year is about as scary a combination that you can financially find. Bennett is coming off of a year in which he saw his lowest total targets since 2011. However, this seems to be similar to Matt Forte, in which a Bears franchise that is ready to rebuild and move on with a new coaching staff saw that Bennett was not their future and moved on from him. Bennett was still the most talented on the Bears last year, he just didn’t get all of the oppurtunity. He may not see huge numbers this year either, playing behind Gronkowski, but his value will be as high as ever. The majority of the attention will be off of him, and he should be an excellent red zone threat this year. I expect the Pats to use him a lot, and for people to be questioning how he landed in such a great spot as we go through the season. 

9. Zach Ertz

The Eagles just paid Ertz to remain a core piece of this franchise, so it is safe to say this is a major year for Ertz. Ertz is lower end blocker compared to teammated Brent Celek. That has hindered Ertz from being able to consistently see the field. Still, last year he saw a major increase in targets, and became arguably the most trusted Eagles receiver on the roster. Like Reed, Ertz is only 25, and at this point the sky is the limit for him. If he can grow as a blocker he will be a guy you can leave on the field at all times, and he is already a major threat going over the middle seeing snaps off. 

10. Charles Clay

Clay is great in a Delanie Walker way in which he can do it all. He is not the great receiving threat that Walker is, but this is a guy who can catch, is a plus blocker and has a ton of position versatility. Clay has lined up in all of the typical tight end slots, as well being the Bills primary fullback last year. His blocking is probably his greatest attribute, but his ability to catch the ball from anywhere, including out of the back field and to be able to continually make plays deserves the. 


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