Top 10 Best Tight Ends in the NFL 2021-22
This is my prediction for the best Tight Ends in the NFL going into the 2021-22 season. This is based on talent and their projected performance for next season. Keep in mind I consider both receiving and blocking prowess. While I base it on past seasons, again this is the best tight ends going into next season.
#10 – Noah Fant
Quarterback woes aside, the Denver Broncos have an ascending young receiving group looking great in 2021. Noah Fant had his moments over his rookie season, but it was his sophomore season he was more consistent in production.
What makes Noah Fant special is his ability to run after the catch. Fant’s 457 receiving yards on passes under 10 yards ranked fourth at the position in 2020. His athletic profile is what allows him to do the rest as a 95th percentile in SPARQ score.
While I think of him highly as a receiver, his ability as a blocker is what keeps him from rising on this list. I consider him a breakout candidate as a receiver, but his inability to block in the rushing game keeps him out of the elite category.
#9 – Rob Gronkowski
Even though Rob Gronkowski is outside of his prime, he is still one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He has taken steps backwards in terms of receiving production over a season, but continues to be the same wrecking ball blocker from his days with the Patriots.
Tom Brady loves to throw to players he trusts, and he has a decade of rapport he has built with Gronk. This trust is shown in Gronk’s 7 touchdowns over the season. When it’s time to score, Brady knows he can trust the massive frame and hands of Rob Gronkowski.
All this being said, it’s only a matter of time before the young emerging Tight Ends overcome Rob Gronkowski. I still believe he is in the conversation as the best tight end ever, but he is far from the best tight end in the NFL today. His athleticism will continue to fall, but his physicality and IQ will keep him in the mix as one of the top 10 tight ends.
#8 – Mike Gesicki
#7 – Dallas Goedert
I can already see it. People questioning why I do fan voting if I’m just going to ignore it. Honestly, that’s exactly why I do it. I like getting the opinion of the general public and compare it to where I rank players.
When it comes to Dallas Goedert, he has surpassed Zach Ertz as the number one Tight End on the team. Not only has he become the more reliable receiver, he is also the far better blocker. The icing on the cake is that blocking ability. Dallas Goedert has sneakily become one of the most reliable blockers as a dual-threat Tight End.
Looking into the 2021 season, the Eagles improved their receiving group, but I believe Dallas Geodert will be one of the most reliable targets for young Jalen Hurts. We see it often where inexperienced Quarterbacks lean on their Tight End and I view this situation no different. I would not be shocked to see Ertz be traded and Goedert getting the lion share of snaps.
#6 – Kyle Pitts
The path to greatness for a rookie Tight End is not an easy path. It’s a position notorious for late bloomers especially in the modern day NFL. As a matter of fact, the record for receiving yards as a rookie Tight End is 1,076 set by Mike Ditka in 1961. I truly believe it’s not outside the realm of possibilities for Kyle Pitts to be the guy who breaks that.
He already got drafted to the team that led the league in passing attempts last season, and then the stars aligned for Kyle Pitts when Julio Jones got traded. This is a guy who is 6’6″, 245 pounds who ran a 4.44 40 yard dash on his pro day. The Falcons will continue to be a pedestrian defense leading to Matt Ryan slinging the rock at a league leading pace. That plays perfectly for Kyle Pitts.
His ability as a blocker at the NFL level will surely be a work in progress which keeps him out of the top 5. That being said make sure to keep this guy on your radar especially if you’re playing fantasy football.
#5 – T.J. Hockenson
T.J. Hockenson was highly touted coming out of college because of his ability as both a receiver and a blocker. He was viewed as the most pro ready Tight End in recent memory because of that dual-threat ability. Unlike Pitts who is viewed as someone who could play out wide, Hockenson is more of a modern day pure Tight End.
Regardless of that, I can safely say that T.J. Hockenson is the best receiver on the Lions. This receiving group was stripped of it’s weapons losing both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Hockenson is the only real threat left and Jared Goff will lean on him heavily.
I have heavily criticized Jared Goff and that does not change. Without Sean McVay and the array of threats he had for the Rams, he will struggle heavily. When this struggle happens, expect T.J. Hockenson who he looks to in attempt to get out of a rut.
#4 – Mark Andrews
A lot can be said about the inconsistency of the Ravens Wide Receivers, but you cannot question Mark Andrews. His skill set fits perfectly into what the Ravens do on offense.
While he has developed into a solid blocker, his ability to attack the seams and be a redzone threat has made him the favorite weapon for Lamar Jackson. Mark Andrews has recorded 2,105 yards and 20 touchdowns over his first three seasons which is an accomplishment you only see from guys like Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
The Ravens did improve their Wide Receivers this off-season, but I still think it will be Mark Andrews who is the favorite receiver for Lamar. He continues to get better more threats means less attention for the rising Tight End.
#3 – Darren Waller
While it’s been a clear 1a and 1b argument for Kittle and Kelce as the best tight ends in the NFL, Darren Waller has slowly crept up into that argument. In my opinion, the only thing that keeps him firmly as the 3rd best tight end in the NFL is his ability as a blocker.
Regardless, his ability as a receiver is at an elite level. He is one of those guys you can line up as a Tight End or line up as a Wide Receiver. If you cover him 1 on 1 with a Cornerback, that’s a mismatch. If you cover him 1 on 1 with a Linebacker, that’s a mismatch. He demands double teams to stop him.
The Raiders lost Nelson Agholor which leaves more targets up to grab. 107 receptions is ridiculous enough for a Tight End, but don’t be surprised if he even surpasses that milestone this season.
#2 – George Kittle
After the 2019 season, I ranked George Kittle as the best Tight End in the NFL. He imposes his will as both a receiver and a blocker and the latter was something that Kelce struggled with.
2020 was no exception. Kittle was the exact same dominant threat, but he struggled to stay healthy.
Going into 2021, I would not be shocked to see Kittle once again regain his spot as the best Tight End in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan is a master of scheming up defenses and he will continue to use George Kittle to the best of his ability. The big problem is the inability of Jimmy G for his production. He does not have the luxury of Patrick Mahomes at Quarterback which will be the difference in production.
#1 – Travis Kelce
I mentioned it was Travis Kelce’s inability as a blocker which had me rank him 2nd on my list of the top 10 best Tight Ends of 2019. Travis Kelce shut me up this season. He has become a willing run blocker more so than every before. There were multiple occasions he imposed his will as a blocker which he did not do the year previous. He is not at the Kittle level of blocking, but this part of his game improved tremendously.
His ability as a receiver is what really makes him the best Tight End in the NFL. His route running is impeccable and he finds himself in more 1 on 1 situations than he should because of the speed Kansas City has out wide.
2020 marked the career high receiving yards for Travis Kelce, and don’t be surprised if he surpasses that mark. This Chiefs offense revamped it’s offensive line, leaving more time for Patrick Mahomes to find his security blanket in Kelce.
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