2016 was an interesting one for tight ends. The most dominant one (Gronkowski) was pretty much out all year battling injuries. Picking the right tight end is half art, and half luck. Let’s see if we can cut down on the luck a bit.
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots- It’s him, far above everyone else. Even when his health becomes a big issue. He’s just that good. He can consistently win you weeks. Trouble is, when he isn’t around for the playoffs, but he can get you there.
2. Greg Olsen, Panthers- Olsen and Cam Newton had up and down years. Greg was still solid, and should be considered the best at his position after Gronk. If you want to play it safe, he is the best choice. A solid pro who knows how to take care of himself and stay on the field (not that Gronk doesn’t- Gronkowski takes a beating like few others do).
3. Travis Kelce, Chiefs- Kelce has all the talent of any tight end, even Gronk. Only thing holding him back is his QB. He has shown he can be as dominant as any other player. He had some lean games, but he had some terrific ones as well. He lead all tight ends in points, but it was an off year for the position.
4. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks- Graham did a nice job coming back from injury. His biggest issue was building up a rapport with his QB Russell Wilson. I’m not sure he will ever get back to being the player he was in New Orleans, but it’s not for lack of effort.
5. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings- Rudolph maybe had his best year as a pro. He and QB Sam Bradford quickly formed chemistry. He had some lean games, but for the most part, was a consistent player at the position. I think Kyle’s game can even get better.
6. Cameron Brate, Buccaneers- Brate is going to be a good one. He showed flashes throughout the season, and had a real solid last 3 out of 4 games. His QB, Jameis Winston should take another step forward for the 2017 season.
7. Delanie Walker, Titans- Solid option for Marcus Mariota. His yards were down a little from last year, but touchdowns were up 1. At 32 years of age, his best football might be behind him. Still, as long as he is starting, he is a viable option.
8. Jordan Reed, Redskins- The only reason I am putting Reed this low is because of uncertainty at the QB position. If Cousins is back, Reed is a top 5 tight end. Health issues are becoming a small concern too.
9. Zach Ertz, Eagles- Tight end is usually a young QBs best friend. Carson Wentz should make strides going into year 2. Ertz could be a steal where he is likely to be drafted.
10. Hunter Henry, Chargers- The heir apparent to Antonio Gates–both players ended up with the exact same points. If you combined them, you would have had the #1 tight end in football for 2016. By a wide margin too. Henry is the future, and should be playable regardless of what Antonio does.