Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) runs after a reception against Philadelphia Eagles safety Patrick Chung (23) and linebacker Brandon Graham (55) at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 NFL Tight Ends In the League

The tight end has become the en vogue position for NFL teams of late.  Who stand out as the best of the best currently playing?

#10 – Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins

He only played in nine games his rookie season but anybody who watched saw exactly the kind of threat Jordan Reed poses to defenses.  Provided he learns to stay healthy for the Washington Redskins he will become their key to attack the middle of the field in between DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

#9 – Martellus Bennett – Chicago Bears

Fans often forget the job of the tight end in the NFL is not all about catching passes.  One must be a good pass and run blocker as well.  Martellus Bennett of the Chicago Bears is one of the best two-way players in the NFL.  He rates highly as a blocker and has amassed 1,385 yards and 10 touchdowns the past two seasons.

#8 – Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers

Few have been a model of consistency quite like Heath Miller of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The 31-year old veteran is a solid blocker and has averaged 585 yards receiving over nine years.  He’s also remarkably durable, missing just seven games in that time span and returning strong from a badly injured knee last season.

#7 – Jordan Cameron – Cleveland Browns

The mark of a great player is his ability to produce results when things around him are going less than ideal.  Jordan Cameron proved that with the Cleveland Browns.  Despite a myriad of turnover at the quarterback position he finished just shy of 1,000 yards and scored seven touchdowns last year.

#6 – Julius Thomas – Denver Broncos

Health was a major problem for Julius Thomas during the early part of his Denver Broncos career, but it didn’t stop him from continuing to work.  It finally paid off in 2014 when he became a key cog in the offensive machine built around Peyton Manning, amassing 788 yards and 12 touchdowns.

#5 – Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers

It’s so easy to forget about a guy like Antonio Gates because he’s been so good for so long.  The San Diego Chargers, most notably Philip Rivers certainly hasn’t forgotten.  The eight-time Pro Bowler finished his sixth season with at least 800 yards receiving.  At age 33 he has a chance to reach both 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns this season.

#4 – Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys

Fathoming the fact that a Jason Witten hasn’t missed a game since 2003 is nearly impossible.  The Dallas Cowboys stalwart gets it done year in and year out and will surpass 10,000 yards receiver provided that streak of durability holds.  He also hasn’t finished with fewer than 850 yards since 2006.

#3 – Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots

Putting a proper placement on Rob Gronkowski is very difficult.  When he plays, the New England Patriots offense goes to a different level.  He is clearly a matchup nightmare both in the open field and the red zone.  However, his ongoing injury issues have begun to affect his impact, missing 14 games the past two season.

#2 – Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers

No man should have the size and the speed combination that Vernon Davis does but it’s for real and the San Francisco 49ers star has used both to become dominant.  In 2013 alone he averaged a gaudy 16.3 yards per catch and scored an absurd 13 touchdowns.  To think he did all that and missed a game is an indication of how good he is.

#1 – Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints

As they say the proof is in the production.  No tight end in the NFL has been more prolific over the past three seasons than Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints.  In that span he has averaged 1169 yards and 12 touchdowns per year.  His basketball player size and deep speed give defenses headaches that start the moment they see him on the schedule.

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Tags: Chicago Bears Cleveland Browns Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos New England Patriots New Orleans Saints NFL Pittsburgh Steelers San Diego Chargers San Francisco 49ers Washington Redskins

  • Duncan France

    Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis ahead of Gronkoski? HAHA!!!! This is the stupidest thing I have ever read. Gronkowski set the record for touchdown’s by TE’s for a season and had 38 touchdowns through his first 3 years in the league, which NO ONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL HAS HAD MORE AT ANY POSITION. Let’s get serious here, the guy is arguably the best blocking TE in the game AND the best receiving TE in the game. If you asked ANY NFL executive if they could have one TE who would it be, i guarantee that 95% of them would say Gronkowski. Discount him due to injuries, but when making evaluations based on pure talent you can’t put Davis or Graham ahead of Gronk, that is laughable.

    • Duncan France

      Oh and his receiving yards per game over his entire career? HIghest EVER for a TE. Jimmy Graham is 10 spots below him.

      • Erik Lambert

        These evaluations are not based on talent alone, Duncan. It’s based on talent, production, durability and off-the-field behavior. More goes into judging a player than talent. The fact that Gronk is #3 given the fact he’s missed 14 games the past two years is a testament to his ability. You railing against that idea just because you’re a Patriots fan won’t change that.

        • Duncan France

          Eric, this has nothing to do with fandom. You’re exact quote is “Who stands out as the best currently playing?” I didn’t write that. Graham doesn’t even block, so you must totally be ignoring that aspect of playing football. Just based on pure talent, INCLUDING BLOCKING, I don’t see how you can put Davis or Graham ahead of Gronk or Witten for that matter. Take the criticism, and stop acting like you’re writing from an objective viewpoint. If you were doing that, you would have prefaced the article with what you said instead of responding with it.

          • IBleedBlue

            I’d still put Witten over Gronk due to Gronk’s fragile nature.

          • Erik Lambert

            If Gronk gets injured again this season you may get your wish. The reason I put Gronk ahead is playoff success and long-term upside. Witten was the best for a long stretch but he’s getting older and has one playoff win in his career. Not all his fault, but it’s a burden he must share.

          • Erik Lambert

            I know exactly what I wrote, Duncan and my stance is unchanged. Your criticism is noted. I rated Gronk as the third best tight end in pro football despite the fact he’s playing fewer and fewer games every year. Graham doesn’t block because that is not his function in the Saints offense and Davis IS a good blocker but nobody takes note of that, including you. Graham has been better than Gronk the past two years in stats and Davis has been comparable to him while proving more durable. That is how I graded it. I’m sorry that doesn’t make you happy.

          • Duncan France

            Never said Davis wasn’t a good blocker. I said he wasnt a better blocker than gronk. If you’re rating fantasy TEs that’s fine. There is no way anyone could possibly convince me that either graham or Davis are better AT FOOTBALL than gronk. The guy is 10th all time ALREADY amongst TEs for touchdown catches and he’s only 25. He has one more than graham by the way, who’s 27. So you can use the stats argument or whatever else you want to use, but at least have some concrete numbers to back it up. Don’t give me a response based on some conditions that will justify your argument. I understand the durability thing, but Davis and Graham might not even be on the field at all this year the way things are going. I just want one sportswriter to give Gronk his due. The guy just constantly gets ripped apart, and, when healthy, he’s the most dangerous offensive weapon in the league.

          • powderBLUE801

            Dude Gronk is a flash in the pan. He is done and will never produce numbers like that again. He is way to brittle and will crumble like a cookie when he gets hit!! To bad cuz he could have been great.

  • IBleedBlue

    When Gronk does it for as long and as well as Witten has, you can type in all caps. Until then, he’s a flash in the pan phenom.

  • trinity

    I agree Jimmy is the best in the league. Gronk is right up there with him in terms of talent, but you’re right about the injuries. Sooner or later, durability has to be factored in when you consider ability, and I’m starting to raise an eyebrow at all his time missed. This time next year, I predict a fall for Antonio Gates, and a rise for Julius Thomas.

    • Erik Lambert

      Gates has nothing left to prove. He was the best in the business for a long stretch and is a future Hall of Famer. Thomas, like Gronk, needs to prove he can stay healthy.

      • trinity

        Gates has definitely been great consistently. I predicted the slide simply because father time catches everyone eventually. Witten has been at it a long time as well. They are still excellent players right now though. And yes, provided Julius stays healthy. The guy is a matchup nightmare, and he’ll have even more experience with Peyton.

        • Erik Lambert

          The true measure of Thomas won’t become clear until Peyton retires, IMO.

          • anon76returns

            Gates himself hasn’t had a lot of seasons without Brees or Rivers at QB.

            I think Gates is on the decline- by a lot of statistical measures, he was the 2nd best TE on SD last season.

  • joe

    Zach ertz is the next best tight end.

    • Erik Lambert

      Based in the offense he plays, I would say that’s a strong possibility.

  • joe

    Celek should be on this list. Only seven drops since entering the league and he blocks insanely well.

    • Erik Lambert

      He deserved consideration but not quite top ten.

  • Bill Nichols

    Green will be on this list next year for the Bolts, we will have 2 top 10 TE’s. Should be a huge year for our Gates replacement, and he is getting schooled by one of the best to ever play. Bolts baby!!

    • Erik Lambert

      They do seem to have something going at that position.

  • Kenneth Kumerle

    Finley, Quarless, Rodgers or Lyerla might just make the list!

    • Erik Lambert

      Lot of ifs regarding that group.

  • Cutler2Marshall312

    I have a hell of a feeling in year 2 of Marc Trestmen’s Offense Martellus Bennet will shock the world even after the season he had last year… The Bears will get Bennet going early in games after they establish the run, Last year was an adjustment period & seeing what our strength and weakness were, I don’t expect him to have Jimmy Graham Numbers B/c of Chi/Bear WR/Corps to go along with Forte but his yards per catch will be outstanding this year, Mark my words..#BearByBirth

  • Carl Eagan

    Graham isn’t close to being the best tight end even his management team claims he is a wide receiver he can’t even block CB’s. Vernon Davis is good when he remembers to concentrate he also can’t block. Gronkowski and Gates are heavier wide receiver who can’t block and can’t seem to stay on the field. Thomas doesn’t deserve to be so high on this list and neither does Cameron as 3-5 yard safety valve pass catchers are running backs who can’t block. Witten and Miller are by far the most complete tight ends on this list as they do everything a tight end is supposed to do they run and pass block they catch everything thrown their way and are consistent.

    • Duncan France

      GronkowskI is routinely rated the top blocking tight end in the league. Sorry pal.

  • TheFreakyRobber

    I agree 100% with this list Erik Lambert. Great Job. That Pats fan is completely biased lol. Gronk being number 3 is a testament to how great he is but he is not #1 as of right now.

    • Erik Lambert

      You can’t please everybody. I felt the list was fair. Gronk is very good but teams now know there’s a chink in his armor. He needs to prove he can get past the health issues if he wants to reclaim #1.