Who do you think of when I say game changing receiver? You probably think of Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, maybe DeAndre Hopkins. Some of the best coaches in the league would think of a completely different position, Tight End. In fact that's why two of the best tight ends in the league just got paid this week. I know its crazy to think about but to be a successful NFL team in this era you need a great pass catcher playing tight end. 4 of the 6 teams that made the super bowl over the last 3 years had a tight end lead their team in receiving yards and receptions. I believe that the reason that Super Bowl 53 had such a low score was because of the poor tight end play by both Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Higbee (this would make sense because they are the two tight ends that didn’t lead their team in receiving yards). There is way more evidence that proves that tight ends are more important then receivers for a team to be successful.
Let me start by making it clear that receivers aren’t as important as they seem. The last first team all-pro receiver to play in a Super Bowl was Julio Jones in Super Bowl 51. Since Super Bowl 51, two first team all-pro tight ends played in a Super Bowl (Rob Gronkowski in Super Bowl 52 and George Kittle in Super Bowl 54). The last first team all-pro receiver to win the super bowl was Marvin Harrison in Super Bowl 41. The last first team all-pro tight end to win a super bowl was Rob Gronkowski in Super Bowl 49. All of these statistics prove that successful teams prioritize tight ends over wide receivers.
An argument many people make is that wide receivers can extend the field and tight ends can’t. Tight ends like Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph couldn’t extend the field but the new generation of tight ends like Travis Kelce and George Kittle have shown that tight ends can catch a deep ball too. Safeties no longer only have to play deep just because a team has a 6’6 receiver, they now have to watch out for these tight ends that will out muscle cornerbacks and burn linebackers. There are also statistics that show tight ends can extend the field. Last year Travis Kelce and Darren Waller both averaged 12.7 yards per reception. That would be considered amazing for a wide receiver let alone a tight end.
Tight ends used to be considered a position that only blocks but players like Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez made it clear that tight ends could be receiving options if the coach knows how to use them. George Kittle, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and so many others have already proven that tight ends aren't just wide receivers that can block, they are legitimate threats that can carry a team to a super bowl if they have a smart enough coach. Recently both George Kittle and Travis Kelce received huge contract extensions and they are getting paid almost as much as wide recievers. I believe that one day tight ends will get paid as much as wide receivers, maybe even more.
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