|07-16-2008, 04:32 PM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2005
ESPN - TE rankings 1-32
By Ken Moll
Updated: July 10, 2008
How good is the Chargers' offense? LaDainian Tomlinson gives San Diego the best running back unit in the league, but the team also boasts the best collection of tight ends in the NFL. Plenty of other talented units are out there, though, and those of Dallas and Cleveland are not far behind. Here's how Scouts Inc. ranks the top 10 tight end groups in the league.
1. San Diego Chargers
Antonio Gates is still the most explosive overall tight end in the league, though his numbers were down somewhat in 2007 because of injury. He still found the end zone nine times last year, though, and he makes it extremely tough for opposing defensive coordinators to match up against him in the passing game. And though Gates isn't a powerful inline blocker, his athleticism enables him to gain leverage quickly and maintain body position to ward off defenders. The combination of reserve tight ends Brandon Manumaleuna and Legedu Naanee gives offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon and head coach Norv Turner the flexibility of attacking defenses from a variety of formations. Manumaleuna is a powerful blocker used primarily in the running game, though he at times can contribute to the passing game. Naanee is an undersized, athletic target who can line up effectively in several different areas of the field.
2. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys boast two tight ends who can have an impact in the passing game and also are effective blockers. Jason Witten had the best season of his career in 2007 and has been one of the most consistent and durable tight ends in the league in recent years. Dallas' front office also drafted an excellent athlete with good size in Martellus Bennett, who likely will be on the field with Witten at times to create mismatches in the passing game. The depth that Bennett provides will give offensive coordinator Jason Garrett another versatile weapon to use in two-tight end formations, forcing defenses to balance up. Witten should prove to be an excellent mentor and should bring Bennett along quickly.
3. Cleveland Browns
The Browns made huge offensive improvements in 2007, thanks in part to a healthy season from Kellen Winslow, who is arguably the most athletic player at his position in the league. His speed, balance and agility make him a tough matchup for even the most talented defenses. Winslow has excellent hands to adjust and make the tough grab, as well as dangerous run-after-catch ability in the open field. He isn't a physical blocker, but like Gates, he locks onto defenders and stays connected. Reserve tight end Steve Heiden is a smart, tough and reliable player who is a solid complement to Winslow.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
Tony Gonzalez continues to put up huge numbers despite the overall struggles of the Kansas City offense and simply has put together more outstanding seasons than any other tight end in the league. Gonzalez does not have great size, but his athleticism and experience enable him to outmaneuver his opponents as a receiver and wall them off as a run-blocker. The Chiefs also drafted Brad Cottam out of Tennessee. He's a huge body who will lend some depth to the position. Cottam struggled with injuries throughout college, however, so it remains to be seen how much of an impact he will make this season.
5. New York Giants
The Giants won the Super Bowl even though Jeremy Shockey, one of the better tight ends in the league, was sidelined with an injury. Virtual unknown Kevin Boss stepped up in Shockey's absence and made several key receptions down the stretch and during the playoffs. Boss showed reliable hands and deceptive speed when he finally got the chance to play. As for Shockey, though he's one of the most outspoken players in the league, he's also one of the most productive tight ends in the league. He is a tough matchup for most linebackers and safeties; he can use his speed and athleticism to outmaneuver the linebackers and his strength to separate from defensive backs. Together, he and Boss form one of the best duos in the league.
6. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts lost solid target Ben Utecht to free agency, but Dallas Clark remains one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. Clark continues to put up excellent numbers, running very good routes while showing athleticism, courage and concentration in traffic. He has enough speed to stretch deep zones and can find voids on short and intermediate routes. He is yet another average-sized tight end who is effective as a blocker using angles, effort and experience in the running game. Rookie Jacob Tamme will fill the void left by Utecht's departure and likely will be used in an H-back role.
7. Tennessee Titans
The Titans took a huge step forward at tight end with the offseason acquisition of Alge Crumpler, who put up solid numbers in Atlanta despite uneven quarterback play. Crumpler shows deceptive speed in the open field, and his combination of athleticism and strength give him natural power as a blocker. Backup Bo Scaife had a very solid year in 2007, and rookie Craig Stevens should be another upgrade. New offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will have three effective weapons to use in multiple-tight end sets.
8. Washington Redskins
Chris Cooley has quietly become one of the more productive players at his position during the past three seasons. Cooley has an excellent combination of size, strength and athleticism, with deceptive speed and agility as a route-runner and decent speed after the catch. He is great in the red zone and uses his strength and experience to get separation. Cooley is also a solid blocker who can set the edge in the running game and stays connected to defenders with aggression. The Redskins also drafted Fred Davis, an athletic, powerful player who will give QB Jason Campbell another fine target in the short and intermediate areas.
9. Chicago Bears
The Bears have two proven tight ends in Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen. Both are versatile enough line up all over the formation, and though neither has shown much power as a inline blocker, both are athletic enough to lock on and stay connected. Olsen has improved his route-running, as Clark continues to find voids in short and intermediate zones and stretch defenses on deep-seam routes. The Bears added a big, strong and athletic player through the draft in Kellen Davis. He's very raw but has the tools to develop into a fine pro.
10. Green Bay Packers
Donald Lee replaced Bubba Franks as the featured tight end last season and had the best season of his career. Lee is undersized but is a very good athlete with natural strength. He has developed as a route-runner and shows surprising running ability when catching the ball in stride. Lee breaks tackles on the second level and shows great concentration and courage in traffic. He stays connected as a run-blocker, but his lack of size can be exploited at times. Rookie Jermichael Finley will team with Lee to provide new QB Aaron Rodgers with reliable targets underneath.
The units below are not the best tight end groups in the league but many have at least one quality player at the position, including young up-and-comers and solid veteran contributors. Here's how Scouts Inc. ranks the tight end groups that did not make the top 10.
11. Houston Texans
The Texans found a gem in third-year tight end Owen Daniels, who had 63 catches last season and is an excellent route-runner with deceptive speed and the quickness to get separation on defenders. Daniels is undersized but plays with great intensity and is effective as a wall-off blocker in the running game. The Texans don't get much production behind Daniels from Mark Breuner and Joel Dreessen, but Daniels' ability to be an effective option in Houston's complex passing attack gives head coach Gary Kubiak another versatile weapon.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars
Marcedes Lewis became a factor in the Jaguars' conservative passing game in his second year. Lewis has an excellent combination of size, power and athleticism, and while he doesn't have great speed to stretch zones he does possess deceptive quickness and the burst to be an effective route-runner. He is a tough matchup for defenders due to his length and strength, has power to break tackles after the catch and has developed his overall route-running. He is more of a receiving tight end but is an effective wall-off blocker. Lewis also has reliable hands and should be more of a red zone threat in time. Backup George Wrighster has seen his role diminish but he is still a solid player who gives the Jags valuable depth.
13. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a good duo in Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler. The veteran Graham is a short, well-built player with excellent athleticism. He is a solid route-runner and has courage and concentration in traffic. Graham is a hardnosed, aggressive blocker despite his lack of height and does a nice job of running his feet on contact. Scheffler was a pleasant surprise for the coaching staff last season, emerging to finish second on the team in both receptions (49) and receiving touchdowns (5). He is a smart athlete who is already an effective route-runner, and Scheffler fits well in Mike Shanahan's offense and should continue to be productive in 2008.
14. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers found a bright spot last season in their otherwise dismal air attack in second-year man Vernon Davis, who managed 52 catches at nearly 10 yards per reception. While Davis has missed time in each of his first two seasons, he looks poised to continue his development as both a receiver and a blocker. His speed and quickness enable him to outmaneuver defenders, and he has soft, reliable hands and the courage and leaping ability to make the tough catch in traffic. There isn't much production from the reserves, though converted wide receiver Delanie Walker will give new offensive coordinator Mike Martz another weapon in the passing game with his ability to play H-back.
15. New England Patriots
The importance of the tight end was diminished for New England in 2007 with the acquisition of WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but starting TE Benjamin Watson is one of the fastest tight ends in the league and has the ability to stretch deep zones. Watson is a mismatch against most linebackers as his quickness, agility and burst enable him to get separation. He struggles at times with concentration in traffic but he has good hands when focused. Watson is a solid blocker who can stay connected and wall off defenders. His quickness and experience allow him to gain leverage early in the play and take proper angles to set the edge. The Patriots acquired Marcus Pollard in the offseason to complement Watson. Pollard is more of an H-back with reliable hands but lacks great speed and quickness. He does have a knack as a route-runner, though, and should make an already explosive offense more versatile.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens had one of the least productive offenses in 2007 thanks in part to TE Todd Heap's prolonged injury absence. A healthy Heap is an excellent receiver who can stretch deep zones and has reliable hands to make the tough catch. Heap is a great route-runner and a tough matchup for most linebackers in coverage and is a solid blocker who uses instincts, technique and size to tie up defenders. Backups Daniel Wilcox and Lee Vickers are limited athletes and aren't used often in the passing game. Heap is a talented player, but his health issues and the lack of talent behind him hurt the group overall.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Heath Miller is one of the best combinations of size, power and athleticism at tight end in the league. Miller has excellent hands with the ability to extend away from his body to make the tough catch, and is also a solid blocker who can muscle defenders with his length and strength. He has gained weight and developed his technique as a blocker and remained an effective route-runner. Miller doesn't have great speed to stretch deep zones but can get separation using his big body and crafty routes. He would likely be more of an impact player in a more versatile offense, but overall Miller is an excellent performer for the Steelers. There isn't much behind him, though, and Pittsburgh's backup tight ends are primarily used as blockers in multiple-tight end formations and play a minimal role in the passing game.
18. New York Jets
The Jets upgraded at tight end during the offseason, acquiring veteran Bubba Franks and drafting the talented Dustin Keller. Chris Baker had his best year as a pro in 2007, as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer incorporated the tight end more often in the Jets' air attack. Baker should remain reliable until Keller becomes comfortable with the offense. Keller is an undersized player with excellent speed who will likely be flexed out and used as an H-back. His speed, quickness and soft hands should be allow him to create mismatches. Franks is clearly on the down side of his career but will provide valuable depth in multiple-tight end formations.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Alex Smith is a solid athlete and reliable receiver, while Ben Troupe and Jerramy Stevens lend size and depth to the unit. Smith is a versatile player who is used as both an in-line tight end and an H-back, and he runs well and shows the quickness and agility to be a proficient route-runner. He has the hands to extend effectively when adjusting to marginal throws, and while he has average strength as a blocker, he is a tough competitor who works hard to stay connected. Troupe was acquired in the offseason from Tennessee but has missed time the last two seasons due to injury and is an underachiever. Stevens provides another big body to shore up the position.
20. Oakland Raiders
Zach Miller is an athletic player who uses his deceptive speed to stretch the seam. Miller has reliable hands and shows great awareness in traffic, and his quickness, agility and size allow him separation from defenders. He isn't a physical blocker but gains leverage early in the play with technique and quickness. John Madsen is a young, undersized player but gives head coach Lane Kiffin another decent target in the passing game with his ability to flex off the line or line up as an H-back and create mismatches.
21. St. Louis Rams
Randy McMichael is an undersized, athletic tight end who showed last season that he can be a versatile weapon. McMichael has the speed and quickness to outmaneuver defenders in base coverages as his route-running ability, agility and burst make him a tough matchup for most linebackers. He has good hands and can put up bigger numbers if utilized more often this season. McMichael isn't a physical blocker but does work to finish. Anthony Becht was brought in during the offseason and is coming off injury, but he is a veteran who brings a combination of size and and athleticism. Becht has been an underachiever throughout his career but has also been with clubs that do not incorporate the tight end heavily in the offense.
22. Detroit Lions
The Lions don't have one outstanding tight end but do have three solid players on the roster. Dan Campbell missed all but two games last season due to injury but has a nice blend of size, power and quickness. Campbell doesn't have the speed to threaten deep zones but can be a solid short-to-intermediate route-runner. He is also a hard-nosed blocker who uses experience and aggression to set the edge. He should fit in well with new offensive coordinator Jim Colletto. Sean McHugh wasn't utilized much as a receiver in 2007 but showed some surprising run-after-catch ability on the second level. McHugh is more of a blocking tight end but is not a liability in the passing game. The acquisition of Michael Gaines in the offseason gives the Lions a third blocker and reliable short target in the passing game.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
Injury cost L.J. Smith much of the 2007 season, but when healthy Smith has the quickness, speed and agility to be a tough matchup. He runs effective routes and shows impressive run-after-catch ability on the second level, and while he has good hands he is better catching the ball when he is not in traffic. He is a solid wall-off blocker who uses quickness and experience to gain leverage. Reserve Matt Schobel has talent but was underutilized in 2007 and adding Kris Wilson does little to upgrade the unit. If Smith is fully healthy, though, this group could move up the rankings.
24. Arizona Cardinals
Leonard Pope is the biggest tight end in the league at 6-foot-8, 258 pounds, and he improved last year in his second NFL season. Pope runs well for his size, and while his speed is not great he has deceptive quickness off the line. He has improved his stems and ability to use his body to separate from defenders, and he has a huge wingspan and solid hand dexterity to make catches away from his body. Despite his size he is not a physical blocker, though he has improved in that area. Reserves Ben Patrick and Jerame Tuman lend some depth, and Patrick has the attitude and versatility to push for more playing time.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Incoming rookie John Carlson, one of the best tight ends in Notre Dame history, should improve this unit immediately with his size, strength and athleticism. Carlson has the quickness, power and soft hands to get separation and create mismatches against opposing secondaries. Journeyman tight end Will Heller will mentor Carlson early in his rookie season. Heller is a limited athlete with reliable hands who does not enhance the Seattle offense, but Carlson will give QB Matt Hasselbeck another downfield option in the passing game.
|07-16-2008, 04:38 PM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2005
26. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will field three solid tight ends in 2008 with Jeff King slated to start. King improved in 2007, showing reliable hands and solid route-running. While he doesn't possess great speed to threaten deep zones, he does have a feel for exploiting short and intermediate zones. He fits well with the run-oriented philosophy of head coach John Fox. Backups Dante Rosario and Gary Barnidge are receiving tight ends and good complements to King. Rosario was utilized well early last season and flashed the run-after-catch ability Carolina has lacked in recent years. Barnidge was a nice pick up in the fifth round of the draft out of Louisville and knows how to get open in the passing game.
27. Miami Dolphins
David Martin is a talented, athletic tight end but did not contribute much last season because of marginal quarterback play. Martin was converted from wide receiver coming out of college and has never been an impact player in the NFL. He has improved his blocking but isn't physical setting the edge, though he has the hands and route-running skills to become a pass target. He has decent speed and shows ability to run in the open field as well. Anthony Fasano and Sean Ryan add depth, and while neither player is extremely athletic both are tough and will elevate the intensity of this group.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
The newly-acquired Ben Utecht will form a nice receiving duo with veteran Reggie Kelly. Both have good hands and run solid routes, and Utecht will likely be used in the same kind of multiple-tight end sets he was a part of in Indianapolis. Kelly and Utecht are best on short and intermediate routes, as neither can stretch deep zones. Utecht is considered the better of the two as an inline blocker but neither is physical at the point of attack. The Bengals drafted Matt Sherry in the sixth round and also have journeyman Nate Lawrie in the mix, and while there doesn't appear to be an impact player among the group Utecht should at least give QB Carson Palmer an added underneath option.
29. Minnesota Vikings
Visanthe Shiancoe is the Vikings' combination tight end, showing good hands and the speed and quickness to separate from defenders, while also improving his footwork and technique as a blocker. Garrett Mills is an undersized player used as an H-back in multiple-tight end formations, and Jim Kleinsasser continues to be an effective blocker even as his production in the passing game wanes. Shiancoe should be utilized more in the Minnesota air attack if young QB Tarvaris Jackson develops as quickly as the team is hoping.
30. Buffalo Bills
Starter and seven-year veteran Robert Royal has had the two best seasons of his career since coming to Buffalo. Royal has average size with above-average athletic ability, and his straight-line speed and quickness make him a solid short-to-intermediate route-runner. He isn't an explosive player but has developed his receiving skills with his blocking. The Bills have lost Kevin Everett (neck injury) and Michael Gaines (free agency) since the beginning of last season, but the front office has done a nice job of acquiring a big body in Courtney Anderson and an athletic rookie in Derek Fine. Both Anderson and Fine are one-dimensional, however, so Royal will have to carry the load.
31. New Orleans Saints
The Saints don't have a tight end on their roster who can be an impact player. Starter Eric Johnson is a reliable receiver and a solid athlete with average size, but he doesn't have great speed to stretch deep zones. He has good hands and can find voids but is inconsistent separating against man schemes. Johnson has courage and concentration in traffic but doesn't show much running ability on the second level, and while he is an adequate blocker he is not a physical player who can set the edge. Veterans Mark Campbell and Billy Milner are one-dimensional, with Campbell being the better blocker and Milner an H-back type who shows solid receiving skills. With Campbell having durability questions and Milner not a blocker, Johnson will be counted on as the unit's top contributor.
32. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons lost one of the better tight ends in the league in Alge Crumpler during the offseason, and none of the tight ends currently on the roster look like standout players. Career backup Ben Hartsock is slated to be the starter this season. Hartsock has good size with above-average strength and is a reliable in-line blocker with toughness and intensity to finish, but he is a limited route-runner with just average quickness and speed to separate from defenders. He does have reliable hands, though, and is best in short and intermediate zones. Hartsock should be an adequate performer if he can overcome past durability issues, while Martrez Milner and rookie Keith Zinger will do little more than provide some depth.
|07-16-2008, 06:17 PM||#3|
Self Appointed Expert
Join Date: Aug 2003
Yet another poorly thought out poorly written piece of crap. Does nobody even bother to take a peek at the team before tossing **** against the wall. The fact they left Mustard out of this rag speaks volumes IMHO
|07-16-2008, 06:44 PM||#5|
Tebowing the long haul
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
Yeah, these guys probably threw these lists together in the matter of an hour or so.
Schef is a solid recieving TE, and Cutler's trust in him makes him a threat.