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NFL’s Top 20 Tight Ends: Is Jason Witten the League’s Best?

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1.  Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

There is simply no doubt about it–Witten is the best all-around tight end in the NFL.  Few tight ends excel at both catching the football and blocking, but Witten is one of the league’s best in both areas.  We gave him the third-highest grade of any player on the Cowboys last season.

2.  Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

At 34 years old, Gonzalez can still get the job done.  He isn’t as dominant in the blocking department as Witten, but he could be the most athletic tight end in the league.  Plus, have you seen his wife?——–>

3.  Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Some may rank Gates higher, but he has a long way to go before his blocking ability matches his pass-catching skills.

4.  Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

We feel confident in saying Davis is not a one-year wonder.  Other than leading the NFL in touchdown receptions last season, he has also developed into a solid run blocker and a good leader.

5.  Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts

Why is Clark so low on our list?  Because he is still a below average blocker and has the benefit of playing with Peyton Manning.

6.  Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers

Our first big surprise.  We’re telling you right now, Finley is going to be a star.  All of the tools are there, including a top-tier quarterback for the next 10 years.

7.  Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens may not like Heap that much (after drafting two tight ends this year), but we sure do.  Like Witten, he is strong in all aspects of playing the tight end position.

8.  Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

Miller has always put up mid-range numbers in the passing game, but he’s also always been one of the league’s best blocking tight ends.  By now you see how much we value blocking as part of a tight end’s arsenal.

Kellen Winslow or Kellen Wins Low? For his teams, it's the latter.

9.  Kevin Boss, New York Giants

This hurts us to admit, but Boss is a top 10 tight end in the NFL.  His pass-catching skills aren’t outstanding, but his run blocking ability is superb.

10.  Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winslow is unquestionably one of the league’s most athletic tight ends, but he is also a bit of a headcase who doesn’t appear to always give maximum effort.

11.  Owen Daniels, Houston Texans

Daniels was leading the league in most receiving categories (among tight ends) before getting injured last season.  He isn’t going to “wow” you with his athleticism, but hey, neither will Witten.

12.  Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders

Miller has been a “sleeper” pick in fantasy circles for years, but he has yet to have that “breakout” season.  Perhaps catching passes from someone other than JaMarcus Russell will do the trick.

13.  Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins

The ex-Cowboy doesn’t receive a ton of pass-catching opportunities in Miami, but he is one of the primary reasons their ground game flourishes.

14.  Martellus Bennett, Dallas Cowboys

No, this isn’t a joke, and no, this isn’t a “homer” pick.  Bennett has all the talent in the world, and it is just a matter of time before he utilizes it.  The reason he is so high on this list, though, is that he was one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL in ’09.  His “B-” overall grade will improve this season.

15.  Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles

We can only imagine the anger from Eagles fan if they see Bennett rated ahead of Celek, but we whole-heartedly believe Bennett would do just as well as Celek if placed in the Eagles’ tight end-friendly offense.

16.  Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars

Lewis has quietly developed into one of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends.

17.  Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints

Is there a player in the league who is harder to like than Shockey?  Sure, he appears to play hard, but unathletic people generally make everything look hard.

18.  Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears

Olsen has yet to live up to expectations.  That task just became a whole lot harder with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz in town.

19.  Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions

Pettigrew showed flashes in his ’09 rookie season before going down with an injury.  He will have to battle newly-acquired Tony Scheffler for touches this year.

20.  Chris Baker, New England Patriots

There are a ton of talented tight ends left (Dustin Keller, Visanthe Shiancoe, Tony Scheffler, John Carlson, Chris Cooley), but all of them are terrible blockers.  Baker is not.

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9 Responses to NFL’s Top 20 Tight Ends: Is Jason Witten the League’s Best?

  1. john coleman says:

    I think both Gonzalez and Gates are too high. I agree they are good pass catchers but not blockers. Clark is the same. These guys have gotten by too long on mismatches. D coordinaters have allowed this by covering them with the wrong guys or simply don’t have the guy to do it. Witten has benefitted from the same. He is the best all around TE without a doubt. In fact to date, IMO it is a large gap to #2. Again, I’m not considering the pass catcher only guys. Winslow is a joke, and way too high. I’d just as soon have Shockey. Give Bennett twice as many opportunities, and he would be top 5.

  2. Jonathan Bales says:

    Yeah, but have you seen Gonzalez’s wife? Haha just kidding…but not really.

  3. Kevin Keithley says:

    Witten is the best all-around TE in the league, hands down. V. Davis had a great year, but would have put him a little lower untill he shows he can do it year after year. Gonzalez deserves to be #2 based on longevity/ performance and his wife.

  4. Jonathan Bales says:

    Hahahahhaha “Gonzalez deserves to be #2 based on longevity/ performance and his wife.”

    What a great sentence.

  5. Jared says:

    I was always curious if Dallas just had Bennett targetted already with their second round pick in 2008 or if they really didn’t like Fasano. He seemed like a decent #2 behind Witten when we had him. Obviously, I like Bennett’s poential and talent more than i do Fasano’s, but he wasn’t guarenteed to be there when we picked him, so i wonder what was so wrong with Fasano when we had him.

  6. Jonathan Bales says:

    That’s a good question Jared. My guess is that they knew they already had a Fasano-type player (and a much better one) in Witten for the next 10 years. Bennett is a different type of player with humongous upside. Fasano can be a good (even really good player), but I doubt he will ever be an All-Pro type guy.

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