Here I will rank my top 10 tight ends in the NFL. But first, the honorable mentions:
I think that we saw notable regression out of Gronkowski in the 2018 season. He was certainly not a top tight end during that year. He was, however, coming off of a bad injury and most likely not as happy playing football as evident by him retiring. He is now out of retirement and in a place (Tampa Bay) where he will most likely be happier. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a monster season, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t play as a top 10 tight end. It’s hard to gauge with a player who we haven’t seen in a few years, so I will at least give him an honorable mention.
Cook had a solid year with New Orleans last season. He had 705 yards and 9 touchdowns in the 14 games that he played. He is definitely an above average blocker also. He is clearly aging, though, and is not at the full speed that he has played with his whole career. I think we might be seeing his last year in the NFL in 2020. This definitely was his best year in the red zone. He was reliable inside the 20s last year. I want to put him in the top 10, but it's hard due to the young guys who will most likely play with much more intensity and speed than him.
And finally, the top 10:
Number 10: Evan Engram
In the 8 games he played, Engram was a very viable option for the Giants. He had 467 yards and 3 touchdowns while still being a decent blocker. He’s not demolishing anyone in the run game, but he is serviceable. He has steadily increased his blocking ability throughout his career. I think that Engram has a lot of room for improvement, but he is very good in the receiving game.
Number 9: Dallas Goedert
Goedert has had a great first two years that have pretty much been overshadowed by Zach Ertz. He put up 607 yards and 5 touchdowns in 15 games while being the second option at tight end. He showed clear glimpses of his greatness, and I think his skill will be on full display in the near future. I don’t think that his best performance was even receiving. He was a force in the run game, and there was a noticeable difference in the blocking performance when he was inactive. I project an even better third year, as Goedert clearly got better as the season progressed.
Number 8: Darren Waller
Waller had a great year receiving don’t get me wrong. He had 1,145 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. I just don’t think that he is better than the other players on this list overall. He isn’t as great of a blocker, he isn’t as strong, and I don’t even think he is a better receiving threat than most of the guys above him. He is good, but he was also in a good system that utilized him well. He’s had more help getting his numbers than most other tight ends.
Number 7: Noah Fant
In his rookie season, Fant looked great. He was an above average blocker, and he delivered when he was brought up in the receiving game. Though he only had 562 yards and 3 touchdowns, I think he was underutilized. He had a high catch percentage when he was thrown too, and he usually was a viable option to go to. Despite a lot of inconsistency in the Denver pass game throughout the season, Fant looked great. I project he will be an even better player in his sophomore year.
Number 6: Austin Hooper
Hooper has been a great tight end for the Falcons. In 13 games last year, he had 787 yards and 6 touchdowns. I don’t think that he will keep up the same level of production with the Browns due to them having many other playmakers on the offense, but he is still a very good player. He can be decent in the blocking game, and when the team around him is solid, he excels.
Number 5: Hunter Henry
After coming off a bad injury, Henry had 652 yards and 5 touchdowns in 12 games. He is a very solid blocker and route runner, and if he could be a bit more consistent, he could be a top tight end. Hopefully, this year he will be fresh and able to run through 16 full games.
Number 4: Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews really emerged as a great overall offensive weapon in his second year. He had 852 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Ravens in a crowded, run-first offense. Andrews is just very well rounded and able to make plays all over the field wherever he is put.
Number 3: Zach Ertz
Ertz just completed his 3rd straight pro bowl season. He has been terrific in the past few years in both the run and pass game. Last year, he had 916 yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games. It was a bit of a down year for Ertz, but he was still fantastic. His consistency has been great for a while. He has had an 800+ yard season 5 years in a row now. He is easily one of the best red zone targets in the league right now, and he should be great for the next few years.
Number 2: Travis Kelce
Kelce has been the best receiving tight end in the league for the past few years. Last year, he had 1,229 yards and 5 touchdowns in the regular season. He was especially clutch in the postseason, where he had 207 yards and 4 touchdowns in 3 games. He was crucial to the Chiefs success and he has been for the past 5 years. How could he not be at number 2?
Number 1: George Kittle
Who else could be number 1? In 14 games, he had 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns while absolutely dominating in the run game. I mean, he took away other players’ manhood while blocking. Kittle is a generational talent and is the start of his prime. Beware of him for the next few years.