The Gronk continues to bring production and attention to the NFL as the league’s best tight end, but the NFL has plenty of star power behind him at the position.
There is the old guard like Antonio Gates, who was one of the new wave of pass-catching specialists when he entered the league more than a decade ago, but the new blood is showing they can keep up and even take over in the rankings.
Drew Brees’ approach of spreading around the ball and having five players with 45 or more catches last year. Graham will be the focus of the passing game, but what will Russell Wilson be able to do with him?
Chicago Bears in 2007, but he has taken his production to another level in the last three years with the Carolina Panthers. That reached a career high last year with his 1,008 receiving yards on a career-best 84 catches and career-tying six touchdowns. He was one of only three tight ends to play more than 1,000 snaps. He hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season, adding consistent availability to his résumé in addition to ascending production as Cam Newton’s second-favorite target.
Julius Thomas, Charles Clay or Gates in the top five, but it remains to be seen how Thomas will perform without a quarterback like Peyton Manning. Bennett led all tight ends in receptions (90) with Jay Cutler on the throwing end and two big receivers to account for in Chicago’s offense. The Bears still have Alshon Jeffery, but Kevin White is replacing the now-departed Brandon Marshall. Does that mean Cutler looks Bennett’s way even more and the tight end expands on his No. 3 ranking of 916 yards from last year?
Honorable mention: Charles Clay, Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates, Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce.
NFL’s top 5 tight ends for 2015
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