Projecting the Top 10 for the 2020 NFL Season: Tight Ends

Projecting the Top 10 for the 2020 NFL Season: Tight Ends

by August 23, 2020 1 comment

Every year the NFL Network does its top 100 countdown based on the previous season. However, that’s the past, and we want to look forward to the future. Four of our writers have put together a 14 part series, predicting our top 10 at each position. We’ve also included the most under and overrated at each position. Today, we continue the series with our top 10 tight ends.

10) Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

Higbee came on late to have a breakout season in 2019 for the Rams, putting up 734 receiving yards and three touchdowns with 69 receptions. After a breakout performance against the Arizona Cardinals in week 13, putting up 107 yards, he would average 104 yards per game over the final six-game stretch. Higbee also finished 2019 with an excellent catch rating of 77.5% and a minimal drop percentage of 2.2%. Moving forward, Higbee should continue to be a big part of Sean McVay’s potent passing attack.

9) Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

Henry missed all of the 2018 season. However, he came back and started right where he left off being one of the top tight ends in the NFL in 2019. Henry would put up 652 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 55 receptions. He would also put up a 72.4% catch rating and a 5.3% drop rating, both of which are respectable numbers. While the Chargers offense has some questions about the 2020 season due to the quarterback situation, there is no doubt that Henry will still be a big part of it.

8) Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

After three seasons of little to no action for Waller, 2019 was finally the year to show the world what he could do. Waller put up 1,145 receiving yards paired with three touchdowns and led the Raiders offense in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving first downs. Waller quickly became Derek Carr’s favorite target. The addition of Henry Ruggs III is only going to create more opportunities underneath for him in 2020.

7) Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After “retiring” during the 2018 offseason, Gronk decided to jump back into the league when Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While some may knock him for not being his usual self in 2018 with only 682 yards on 47 receptions, his blocking abilities remain unmatched. While a year off prevents me from putting Gronk in the top-five, his versatility, legitimate depth behind him, and a great receiving corp keep him as potentially one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

6) Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

In just his second season in the NFL, Andrews put up big numbers in a high powered Ravens offense. Andrews would post 852 yards and 10 touchdowns on 64 receptions. Andrews also had the highest touchdown percentage and target shares among all players on this list and became Lamar Jackson’s favorite target through the air and was a bigtime red zone threat. Even crazier is that he is also the youngest tight end on this list at just 23 years old. Having another offseason to grow and form more chemistry with Jackson will only see the young tight end continue to grow and thrive.

5) Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints

Going into 2020, Cook is once again going to be having one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time throwing him the ball in Drew Brees. Cook has put together a solid stretch of seasons between his time with the Las Vegas Raiders and Saints. In 2019, Cook put up a 74% first down percentage and a 20.9% touchdown percentage. Mainly, when Cook was touching the ball, the Saints were either moving the chains or putting up points. 2020 should be a similar year for Cook as the Saints look to make a deep playoff run.

4) Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

In his final season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2019, he put up 787 yards and six touchdowns. Hooper also put up a high catch rating of 77.3% and a 1% drop rating. In case you were wondering, he only had one drop in 2019. While some question whether he will work in Cleveland, I believe that Hooper is precisely the kind of player that Baker Mayfield needed. Hooper should see a good majority of touches in 2020.

3) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

It still seems to be unanimous about who the top three tight ends are in the NFL. The only difference is how you go about ranking those three. Going into 2020, Ertz is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. 2019 saw him with a substantial portion of the targets as Carson Wentz didn’t have anybody to throw the ball to other than him. Ertz would put up 916 yards and six touchdowns and continuously fought for those few extra yards. There still aren’t many other tight ends that can be relied on the same as Ertz to either gain you a first down or create mismatch nightmares.

2) Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce is a mismatch nightmare as he is too big for most safeties, but also too fast and quick for most linebackers. His 2019 stats reflect this as he put up 1,229 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the year. While he would occasionally hit a bump in the road coughing up a few drops, Kelce kept those bumps to a minimum and had a 71.3% catch rating on 136 targets. Kelce has shown no signs of slowing down and will continue to be one of Patrick Mahomes’ favorite targets.

1) George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

While Kelce is my favorite receiving tight end, there is no denying that Kittle is a top receiving tight end but also the best all-around tight end. Whatever Kyle Shanahan has tasked Kittle to do in the 49ers offense, he has gone above and beyond. Kittle is also a playmaker and averaged 7.1 yards after the catch and posted a 62.3% first down percentage. Kittle will continue to be the most dominant player on the field at any given time and help the 49ers make another deep playoff run in 2020.

Most Underrated – Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

If you want to see how good Fant could be, watch the tape on him. Fant is a playmaker who averaged 8.3 yards per reception and can go up and make contested catches. Fant also saw a decent amount of touches in this Broncos offense. With another offseason to develop and grow with quarterback Drew Lock, Fant could be in for a big season in 2020.

Most Overrated – Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

Before Steelers fans lose their minds, keep in mind that when I say Ebron is overrated, it is not that he isn’t still a good football player. While Ebron did miss some of 2019, which shrank some of his stats, he dealt a great deal with drops. He would post a 9.6% drop rating in 2019 following an 8.2% drop rating in 2018.

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