Top 10 TEs in the NFL – Best Tight Ends in the NFL in 2012

Last Updated: August 30th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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The tight end position has been one of the most talked about positions over the course of the last few years, especially in fantasy football. However, it takes a lot more than just pass catching abilities to be one of the best tight ends in football, and here at Bankroll Sports, we are taking a look at the Top 10 tight ends in the NFL for 2012.

1: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: There is simply no denying just how good Gronk is. He has huge hands, he is quick off the line of scrimmage, and he is impossible to jam. He’ll be out in the route in a hurry, and if QB Tom Brady gets the ball anywhere near him, Gronkowski is going to get it. It can’t be expected that Gronk is going to be the league leader in touchdown grabs every single year, but as long as the rapport between him and Brady remains strong, there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be one of the best tight ends in the league.

2: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: Graham has already told the media that he is never going to be catching passes from a quarterback not named Drew Brees in his career. That’s a bold statement to make considering just how much younger Graham is than his quarterback, but it is also a testament to just how well these two work together. Graham was one of the least heralded tight ends out of Miami in the most recent wave of tight ends to come from “The U,” but he has already eclipsed what any of the others have been able to do. This is one of the best receivers in the whole league, and he is built like a linebacker, not a receiver.

3: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: The big problem that Gates has in his career is that he just can’t stay healthy. However, he is a basketball player by trade, and he is still a true power forward when he is in the middle of the field. Gates has lined up on the outside as well at receiver, and he has the speed to be able to get the job done out there as well. With WR Vincent Jackson now gone, if Gates can stay on the field (and yes, we know that that is a big, big “if”), he could easily be a 1,200-yard receiver once again.

4: Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers: Finley is often overlooked as one of the best tight ends in football because of the offense that he plays in. Yes, Finley doesn’t get the looks of WR Jordy Nelson or WR Greg Jennings, but there are still plenty of passes that come his way. He had eight touchdowns and 767 receiving yards last year, but in terms of talent, the sky truly is the limit. There is no challenging what Finley can do for the Packers if QB Aaron Rodgers looks his way more.

5: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: When Davis was drafted by the Niners, he was brought into be a physical monster. There have been moments that he has done some things that just make you go, “Wow!” He has had some spats with his coaches though, most notably the one with Mike Singletary a few years ago. However, Davis had 792 yards and six scores for the 49ers last year, and he was the favorite target at times of QB Alex Smith. In a safe offense, you need a good safety valve, and it doesn’t get much better than what Davis brings to the table with his huge hands and ability to leap out of the building.

6: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons: Gonzalez is the standard for what tight ends have to live up to in their career. He is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer, and he is still producing, even at the age of 36. Gonzo has caught nearly 1,200 passes, and he’ll get to 14,000 receiving yards this year for his career in all likelihood, not to mention the 95 trips to the end zone. Even last year, Gonzalez had 80 catches, 875 yards, and seven scores, proving that he can still be a threat. His speed is down, and his leaping abilities aren’t what they once were, but Gonzalez is still an athletic freak of a tight end.

7: Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions: Part of Pettigrew’s success has been because of the offense that he is in, and part of the reason that the Lions throw the ball so much is because he can’t block. But as a receiver, we just can’t deny how good Pettigrew really is. He is a red zone threat because he is 6’6″, but more importantly, he is used as a short option in the middle of the field or on the sidelines when WR Calvin Johnson isn’t available for QB Matt Stafford. Pettigrew knows his role, and he knows it well, and he’ll have another 700+ yards this year for sure.

8: Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: Hernandez was picked in the same draft as Gronkowski was, and though he hasn’t quite paid the same type of dividends, he is a different type of player. Hernandez is a better blocker than Gronk is, and he is a better threat around the line of scrimmage. The former Florida Gator has no problems carrying the ball or being a lead blocker, and to top it all off, he has great hands and solid speed as well. Without Hernandez on his opposite side, Gronkowski wouldn’t be so open, because linebackers and safeties have to pay attention to Hernandez as well.

9: Owen Daniels, Houston Texans: Daniels fell off the face of the earth last year as a receiver in Houston, but what we have to remember is that QB Matt Schaub was out for quite some time, and TE Joel Dreessen and FB/TE James Casey stole a lot of his touches. Still, in Houston, they’ll tell you that this is a man that blocks like there is no tomorrow, and he has a tendency of just finding ways to get open for Schaub. There’s a certain knack to Daniels that we like, and he could be in for a great year in 2012.

10: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: Apologies go out to Dustin Keller, Brent Celek, and Fred Davis, all of which were left off this list, but we still think that Miller is a tight end that is always overlooked. The former Virginia Cavalier set all sorts of records for receptions and receiving yards in college, and he came to the pros and became a vicious blocker as well. Miller can block in space, and on the line of scrimmage, and it isn’t his fault that he is utilized this way. Now that Todd Haley has taken over the offense though, we think that Miller could again become a big part of the passing game. Remember that this is a man that caught 76 passes just three years ago.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 @ 10:51 pm (EST)
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