The Tight End has evolved into arguably the most important offensive position outside of Quarterback with the last 5 Super Bowl Champion teams featuring All-Pro TE’s.
Top 5 NFL Tight Ends Going Into 2020
2019 stats: 852 yards, 10 touchdowns, 13.3 yards per reception
Sophomore third round pick out of Oklahoma Mark Andrews took a big step forward this season with the Ravens. A lot of that can be attributed to Lamar Jackson’s massive development in the passing game although Andrews was responsible for 45.96% of Jackson’s passing yards during their rookie campaigns. Simply put, he loves to find his big tight end. Andrews was able to stretch the field and provide the Ravens with an adequate space to operate as the second-best running team only behind the 49ers. His 10 touchdowns led all tight ends and was enough to place him second in the league overall trailing only Kenny Golladay. If he can improve his route tree and ability to read the zone, there is no doubt he could climb to even greater heights on this list next year.
2019 stats: 1,145 yards, 3 touchdowns, 12.7 yards per reception
We all know Derek Carr is a yards after the catch king. The Raiders ranked 5th in the league in team yards after the catch. Carr’s yards after the catch made up 55.06% of his total yards. Of those teams in the top 5, Carr had the least amount of passing yards overall, and his percentage is second highest. The first highest percentage was Patrick Mahomes’ 56.36% who only played 14 games. His 3 touchdowns can also be attributed to the Raiders’ 52.83% touchdown percentage in the Red Zone which was 22nd in the league. Simply out, Waller was the greatest weapon Carr could have ever asked for. He was an absolute mismatch against opposing defenses all season long. His tale of overcoming addiction to opioids has been an amazing story to watch and will be a great target for any quarterback in the 2020 season.
2019 stats: 916 yards, 6 touchdowns, 10.4 yards per reception
Zach Ertz has been one of the most consistent tight ends for the past 5 years. He has never been below 800 yards receiving since 2014. The 40th ranked player in 2019 according to the NFL has never had a catch percentage below 65 besides his rookie campaign. He is able to use his size and power to an amazing extent. He is not far removed from his 7 receptions, 67 yards, and 1 touchdown performance in the Super Bowl. He has proven repeatedly that he is dependable when his quarterback needs him the most. I have him in the number 3 spot simply because the other 2 players on this list are that good.
2019 stats: 1,053 yards, 6 total touchdowns, 12.4 yards per reception
Kittle’s back to back 1,000 yard receiving seasons puts him in an elite group. He ranked third in the NFL in yards after the catch. In fact, those yards made up 57.17% of his season receiving total. Those types of statics are normally reserved for running backs but Kittle proved in his dominant season that he was a special type of player. Beyond his ability to catch the football, he is among the best blocking tight ends in the league. On December 11th, 2019, Next Gen Stats revealed that runs plays averaged 4.9 yards per carry with Kittle on the field and only 3.0 yards per carry when he was off the field. His success, or lack thereof, in the playoffs is one of the big reasons he is not number one on this list. His postseason stat totals were 8 receptions for 71 yards and zero touchdowns. It does feel like he let his team down when they needed him the most. I think a lot of that can be attributed to his quarterbacking play, but he is not without fault.
2019 stats: 1,233 yards, 6 total touchdowns, 12.7 yards per reception
The debate is over. George Kittle can no longer be in the conversation for best tight end in the league. Kelce is the definitive most dominant player in his position. His playoff stats included 207 yards receiving, 4 touchdowns, and 10.19 yards per reception. His IQ helps him read the soft parts of zones. Linebackers are too slow to keep up with his route running and safeties aren’t strong enough to overpower him. Kelce has recorded 4 straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons. Not even names such as Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten have been able to do that. All the other names on this list have a combined 4 seasons of over 1,000 yards. He will go down as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game of football.