2023 Tight End rankings: Chiefs’ Travis Kelce unanimous leader of top 10 in NFL
Solely 4 groups allocate $20 million or extra to their tight ends in 2023. That accounts for your entire place group — usually three gamers and typically 4. In distinction, 13 broad receivers make at the least that a lot on their very own.
It is easy to argue that tight ends are underpaid and underappreciated. They’re additionally among the many hardest gamers to judge. None of our top three was drafted in the primary or second spherical, and some had been chosen late on Day 3. Hitting on one, nevertheless, brings huge advantages to any offense. Tight ends are versatile and tough to recreation plan towards. The actually nice ones are value their appreciable weight in gold.
With that in thoughts, our writers listed their finest 10 primarily based on their confidence in every tight finish had been he to take the sector for a recreation subsequent week. A primary-place vote merited 10 factors in our methodology and descended from there, all the way down to a single level for tenth place. We then mixed the scores to find out our rankings.
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas Metropolis Chiefs
Geoff Schwartz: Travis Kelce has all the time been the Chiefs’ most essential offensive weapon throughout this run of seven straight divisional titles, three Tremendous Bowl appearances and two Lombardi trophies. I don’t know if he’ll ever obtain full recognition for his play, even with a gold jacket in his future. His psychological processing and reference to Patrick Mahomes enable him to play the sport otherwise than his friends. He has free rein to maneuver across the area as he sees match, and his excellent footwork and physique consciousness depart him persistently open with the uncanny potential to keep away from huge collisions.
He’s had seven straight 1,000-yard seasons. Final season, at age 33, he had 152 targets and 110 catches for 1,338 yards. That quantity put him eighth in the NFL for receiving yards and almost 500 yards greater than the following closest tight finish. Kelce isn’t slowing down anytime quickly.
2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Eric D. Williams: Brock Purdy’s safety blanket has a uncommon mixture of pure pace to rapidly get deep down the center of a protection and in addition brute energy to wreck defensive ends in the working recreation. Over the previous two seasons, Kittle is second to solely Travis Kelce in yards after catch (881) and receiving touchdowns (17). In accordance with Subsequent Gen Stats, Kittle led all tight ends with 405 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns on passes of 10-plus air yards in 2022.
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3. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
Williams: The Oklahoma product was Lamar Jackson’s No. 1 goal in Baltimore’s tight end-friendly offense, ending with 73 receptions for 847 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns final season. The addition of offensive coordinator Todd Monken, together with explosive playmakers on the perimeter in Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, might imply fewer targets for Andrews. Nevertheless, Jackson has an incredible rapport with Andrews in got-to-have-it moments, so the expectation is his top-flight manufacturing will proceed. In accordance with Subsequent Gen Stats, Andrews completed second to Travis Kelce with 585 receiving yards aligned in the slot final season.
4. T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
Carmen Vitali: Kirk Cousins is a greater quarterback when Hockenson is on the sector. That was obvious from the stats after Hockenson was traded from Detroit to Minnesota final November. Cousins’ air yards ticked up drastically. In Weeks 1-8 final season, Cousins had zero video games with air yards per try in double digits. After? He had a number of.
Hockenson additionally gave Cousins a dependable third-down goal in addition to a man who might merely transfer the chains. Hockenson accounted for 27 receiving first downs with the Vikings final season. Minnesota lives in 11 personnel, with head coach Kevin O’Connell a component of the Sean McVay teaching tree, so whichever tight finish is on the sector issues loads. With Hockenson, the Vikings are in a position to unleash the total extent of their playbook and depend on him each as a receiver and blocker, which places him excessive on this record.
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5. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Ralph Vacchiano: Whereas he will not be Travis Kelce, Goedert has the talents to be close to the top of the following group. His largest downside is he’s not the featured performer on his staff. The Eagles are a robust working staff and their passing recreation goes by A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Nonetheless, Goedert was on tempo for 80 catches and 1,000 yards final season earlier than he missed 5 video games with an injured shoulder. That’s phenomenal contemplating he’s the fourth possibility in his staff’s offense. The Eagles don’t must function him extra, but when they did, he’d be a big-time star.
6. Darren Waller, New York Giants
Vacchiano: It wasn’t way back that Waller was the closest factor the NFL needed to Travis Kelce’s equal. He averaged 99 catches 1,171 yards and 6 touchdowns in a two-year span. However that was again in 2019-20. And that’s the problem with Waller. It’s been some time. And after two injury-plagued seasons, can he nonetheless be what he was? After seeing him at coaching camp and really briefly in the preseason, the Giants are satisfied they traded for the 2019-20 model. In the event that they’re proper, he ought to vault means up this record. However he’ll be 31 years outdated shortly after Opening Day and … effectively, two years is a really very long time. Waller clearly has lots to show.
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7. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Greg Auman: Pitts is perhaps probably the most tough tight finish to rank on this record. Is that this the man who topped 1,000 yards and made a Professional Bowl as a rookie, or the one with three complete touchdowns in two seasons? He was a top-five draft decide and he seems to be absolutely recovered from final yr’s knee damage. With the shortage of actual depth behind Drake London at receiver, Pitts has each likelihood to be a top goal for Desmond Ridder, particularly in the pink zone. In an offense loaded with excessive draft picks at talent positions, Pitts has an opportunity to indicate why he was chosen so excessive two years in the past.
8. Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ben Arthur: After a rollercoaster begin to his profession with the Giants, Engram loved a breakout season with the Jaguars final season, catching 73 passes for 766 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had the most effective run-blocking grade of his profession in 2022, too, in response to Professional Soccer Focus. It earned him a big-money extension this offseason. With a yr below his belt with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and coach Doug Pederson, identified to provide tight end-friendly offenses (he had prime Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert in Philadelphia), the previous first-round decide ought to proceed ascending in Jacksonville.
9. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
Williams: The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Freiermuth is the primary tight finish who seems succesful of matching the manufacturing of retired Professional Bowler Heath Miller, an inventory that included Ladarius Inexperienced, Vance McDonald and Jesse James earlier than him. Like Miller, Freiermuth is persistently succesful of making contested catches over the center of the sector. He totaled 63 receptions for 732 receiving yards and two scores final yr. And at 24 years outdated, he’s simply hitting his prime.
10. Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans
Henry McKenna: Schultz had a reasonably candy gig with the Cowboys, who had one of the NFL’s most prolific passing offenses over the previous few years. However that isn’t to say he did not get his fingers soiled. In 2022, Schultz had the seventh-highest run-blocking grade amongst tight ends who had 50-plus run blocking snaps, per Professional Soccer Focus.
So, sure, it’s terrific that Schultz performed an enormous function in successful fantasy soccer trophies in 2021, when he had 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. Nevertheless it’s his versatility that earns him a spot on this record. Will probably be fascinating to see how productive he might be in Houston, the place the offense isn’t fairly firing like in Dallas. Can Schultz maintain a spot on this record or may he lose floor?
Honorable point out: David Njoku, Chig Okonkwo, Cole Kmet
These rankings had been compiled by:
AFC South reporter Ben Arthur (@benyarthur)
NFC South reporter Greg Auman (@gregauman)
Dallas Cowboys reporter David Helman (@davidhelman_)
AFC East reporter Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis)
NFL and betting analyst Geoff Schwartz (@GeoffSchwartz)
NFC West reporter Eric D. Williams (@eric_d_williams)
NFC East reporter Ralph Vacchiano (@RalphVacchiano)
NFC North reporter Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV)
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