Top-5 Tight-Ends In The NFL

Ranking NFL tight-ends can be a difficult process, mainly because of their varied skill sets and the different demands placed on players in their respective offensive systems. For every tight-end who approaches 1000-yards receiving, there is another guy whose primary importance to the offensive blocking scheme cannot be diminished.

Still, the multidimensional tight-end who can contribute to the passing game and who can also hold his own blocking a tough linebacker is invaluable. That is why Antonio Gates is by far the number one tight-end in the league on the list of the top tight-ends currently playing according to BOLTHYPE:

1. Antonio Gates

A top-ranking for Gates is no-brainer in my opinion. But despite his size, speed, and agility that are second to none, there are some reasons to at least question Gates number-one ranking. The injuries that have plagued the Chargers tight-end over the last few seasons have definitely hurt the team at times. Gates is a game-changer who forces a defense to adjust to his presence. When he is out of the game, the Chargers are a different offense. But at this point in his career, a healthy Gates is still in his prime. No one can compare to his ability to make a big play in the passing game, and the 260-pounder can hold his own when forced to block- a task that does not happen all that often.

2. Jason Witten

The player closest to Gates, in this writer’s opinion, is the Cowboys Jason Witten. His overall contribution to the Cowboys’ offense is irreplaceable, and his 1000-yards receiving in three of the last four seasons is currently unmatched by any other tight-end in the league.

3. Dallas Clark

Clark had a tough season in 2010, playing in only six-games due to injury, but that one season does not diminish Clark’s importance to the Colts’ offense. In 2009 Clark had 100 catches for over 1000-yards. His ability to hang on to the ball and gain tough yards has made him QB Peyton Manning’s favorite target, and the team felt his loss last season, especially around the end-zone.

4. Vernon Davis

After years of carrying around the “potential” label, Davis has had two stellar seasons for a very sorry offense. He has had back-to-back years with over 900-yards receiving, and last season he was second in the league among tight-ends with 15 catches for over 20-yards (behind only Gates). As long as he doesn’t revert back to his tumultuous past, and the 49ers eventually find some consistency at quarterback, the best may be yet to come for Davis.

5. Tony Gonzalez

His stats have been declining since 2008, but his 70 receptions last year still ranked 4th in the league in that category. I was tempted to move him outside of the top five on this list, but I could not find another player that I had more trust in than the veteran Gonzalez.

As the passing game continues to rule the NFL gridiron, the pass-catching tight-end will continue to grow in importance. And as the spotlight shines on the position, these guys prove to be the cream of the crop.

Do you have a different opinion? Who would you rank as the top tight-ends in the NFL? Sound off below and let us know!

June 9, 2011

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