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fordfixer
05-17-2009, 11:09 PM
The tight end position has many permutations
in today’s NFL. There is the
traditional in-line player, the tight end who
splits out wide, the shifting tight end and
the tight end/fullback hybrid better known
as an H-back.
RealScouts, SN Today’s team of former
NFL scouts, rank the top 20 tight ends:

1. Jason Witten, Cowboys. Though
his 81 receptions for 952 yards
and four touchdowns in ’08 were
considered a bit of a down year, he
still has 177 catches the last two
seasons. He has missed just one
game in six seasons and has a
career 11.5 yards per catch average.
The departure of Terrell Owens
means Witten will be targeted even
more in ’09, and his blocking
ability also will help the running
game balance the offense.

2. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons. The
Falcons already had an exciting
young QB in Matt Ryan, the NFL’s
second-ranked running game and a
Pro Bowl receiver in Roddy White.
Gonzalez, coming off back-to-back
seasons with at least 96 catches, can
be the threat down the seam the
team has been missing since Alge
Crumpler’s prime. Gonzalez also is
an effective blocker, and he’ll be a
valuable asset in the red zone. Look
for Gonzalez to eclipse that 100-
catch mark in ’09.

3. Dallas Clark, Colts. Some say
Clark’s success is a function of
the Colts’ offense, and there’s little
doubt that Peyton Manning has had
a positive effect on his career. Clark,
however, makes this offense go at
times because of his ability to beat
any coverage in the middle of the
field. He’s smart enough to find open
space in zones, fast enough to beat
linebackers man-to-man and strong
enough to overpower safeties.
Clark’s ability to adjust within the
Colts’ option-route system is critical,
and he does enough as a blocker to
stay on the field in any situation.

4. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers. After
back-to-back 16-game, 80-catch
seasons, Winslow was on the
sideline again in ’08, missing six
games. His life will get better in
Tampa. His unique combination of
size, speed and athletic ability makes
him a threat anywhere on the field,
and offensive coordinator Jeff
Jagodzinski plans to take full
advantage. Don’t be surprised to see
Winslow lead the Bucs in receptions,
yardage and touchdowns this year.

5. Antonio Gates, Chargers. He
played through toe, ankle and
hip injuries last season, hindering
his production. He still is the man
who transformed the tight end
position. Big, physical and fast, he
cuts and runs like a wide receiver
but his size and strength make him
tough to tackle in the open field.

6. Heath Miller, Steelers. He is more
of a traditional in-line tight end
who does everything well. In
additional to being an outstanding
run blocker, he has the size and sure
hands to be an effective short-tointermediate
route-runner and a
dangerous red-zone threat. The
Steelers’ switch to a more passoriented
attack has only helped him,
and the fact he never has to leave the
field is invaluable.

7. Owen Daniels, Texans. He is a
smart, savvy receiver who has a
knack for beating zone coverage. He’s
not physically imposing, but he can
run, has reliable hands and is now a
proven playmaker. With improved
play from the offensive line and
running game, QB Matt Schaub
should be more effective in ’09 and
that means more balls for Daniels.

8. Chris Cooley, Redskins. He is a
smaller, athletic tight end who
works well in space, as a receiver and
a blocker. He’s deceptively fast and
has burned plenty of linebackers on
deep seam routes. Though his
touchdowns and yards per catch
were down in ’08, Jim Zorn’s offense
has meant more touches for Cooley
(career-high 83 catches in ’08).

9. Todd Heap, Ravens. Heap, 29, has
slowed considerably because of a
litany of recent injuries. He also is not
an ideal fit in coordinator Cam
Cameron’s scheme, and there’s
reason to believe Heap will slide
further down this list. He’s still a solid
in-line blocker, but the arrival of L.J.
Smith means team officials believe
Heap’s best days are behind him.

10. Bo Scaife, Titans. The Titans
upgraded their wide receiver
corps, adding free agent Nate
Washington and drafting Kenny
Britt. The team also drafted a tight
end, Jared Cook, in the third round.
Scaife might not get as many looks as
he is accustomed, but he still is the
key cog in the two-minute offense
and in the red zone.

11. Ben Watson, Patriots. For those
who look strictly at receiving
statistics, his decline is severe. He
doesn’t get a lot of looks in the
passing game, and he has been
inconsistent with the opportunities
he does get. However, he never
leaves the field. When the Patriots go
with a two-tight end look, Watson is
in there. When they go with a big
goal-line personnel group, Watson is
in there. When they go with an
empty set, Watson is in there as an
extra pass blocker. The additions of
Chris Baker and Alex Smith will
alter his role, but Watson remains a
critical piece of the offense.

12. Zach Miller, Raiders. He has not
missed a game in two
seasons and has emerged as an
every-down tight end who can run
block effectively—which will be a
bigger part of the offense in ’09—and
make plays as a receiver. Miller,
heading into his third season, will
improve as QB JaMarcus Russell
becomes more seasoned.

13. Greg Olsen, Bears. There was no
sophomore slump in ’08. He
showed great improvement and
became a playmaker, particularly in
the red zone, posting five touchdowns.
After failing in several
attempts to upgrade the wide receiver
corps, Olsen remains the Bears’ best
and most reliable option in the
passing game. His statistics are sure
to improve with QB Jay Cutler.

14. Jeremy Shockey, Saints. He is a
disappointment since
arriving from New York, but Saints
coaches say Shockey is healthy and
has been spending a lot of time
working with QB Drew Brees.
Shockey is athletic and a capable
big-play threat when at full
strength. If Billy Miller can catch
45 balls in this offense (he did last
year), a healthy Shockey can give
this team 75-plus catches.

15. John Carlson, Seahawks.
Carlson’s 55 receptions were
the most by any rookie tight end in
’08, and QB Matt Hasselbeck missed
nine games. With Hasselbeck back
and a re-tooled game plan, Carlson’s
natural receiving skills could be on
display. He has great hands and is
not afraid to make tough catches
over the middle.

16. Kevin Boss, Giants. Boss did a
nice job last year, his first full
season as a starter. He’s a big target,
and his sure hands and ability to run
after the catch give Eli Manning
confidence. Boss is a tough, competitive
guy who should continue to
improve and get more touches,
particularly in the red zone.

17. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings. He
had a breakout season in
’08, showing strong hands and the
ability to make tough catches over
the middle and displaying the
athleticism to gain yardage after
the catch. His limitations as a
blocker take him off the field at
important times, though.

18. Dustin Keller, Jets. He emerged
as a Brett Favre favorite last
year. Keller basically is a bulked-up
wide receiver who often aligns in the
slot in spread formations. He has
dangerous vertical speed and big-play
ability. With the Jets’ QB situation in
flux and his limitations as a blocker,
it’s hard to imagine him moving up
this list much in the short term.

19. Brent Celek, Eagles. After
spending time in Smith’s
shadow, Celek takes over as the
starter. Celek has soft hands and is
athletic and fast enough to be a threat
down the seam. This offense still
runs through RB Brian Westbrook.
An improved line, a healthy Westbrook
and dangerous perimeter
threats should allow Celek opportunities
to make an impact in ’09.

20. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions. We
generally don’t rank rookies,
but Pettigrew deserves mention. He
lacks breakaway speed but plays
faster than his 40 time would
suggest, and he will take some
pressure off WR Calvin Johnson.
Pettigrew also can be a devastating
blocker who can set the edge and
really bolster the running game.

SPORTING NEWS TODAY http://www.sportingnews.com NFL WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2009 26

flippy
05-18-2009, 06:25 AM
Hines Ward blocks more than the majority of these TEs.

Miller and Watson are the only real TEs on the list. Everyone else is a mislabeled WR.

phillyesq
05-18-2009, 07:16 AM
Hines Ward blocks more than the majority of these TEs.

Miller and Watson are the only real TEs on the list. Everyone else is a mislabeled WR.

I'd add Heap and Zach Miller to the list of real TEs, but for the most part, you're absolutely right. Very few traditional TEs.

Jom112
05-19-2009, 10:56 PM
Hines Ward blocks more than the majority of these TEs.

Miller and Watson are the only real TEs on the list. Everyone else is a mislabeled WR.

Jason Witten is actually a pretty good blocking TE as well. It's just overlooked because of his receiving skills...

steelblood
05-20-2009, 08:20 AM
Hines Ward blocks more than the majority of these TEs.

Miller and Watson are the only real TEs on the list. Everyone else is a mislabeled WR.

Jason Witten is actually a pretty good blocking TE as well. It's just overlooked because of his receiving skills...

You are correct. Witten is a decent blocker and an amazing receiver (when healthy). He is a first class dude too, like Heath.

Steel Life
05-20-2009, 04:21 PM
Winslow rated better than Heath?...Based on what? Results?!? Promise?!?

WTF?...Winslow has one good season, whereas Heath has had several good ones - plus he's a winner, not a whiner. Shows what a famous name will do for you....

Mel Blount's G
05-20-2009, 04:34 PM
Hines Ward blocks more than the majority of these TEs.

Miller and Watson are the only real TEs on the list. Everyone else is a mislabeled WR.

Jason Witten is actually a pretty good blocking TE as well. It's just overlooked because of his receiving skills...

You are correct. Witten is a decent blocker and an amazing receiver (when healthy). He is a first class dude too, like Heath.
Well, this guy isn't really considering blocking too much as an integral part of the TE's game imo as illustrated by the fact he has Winslow so high up there (at least the guy didn't dare mention "blocking" whatsoever in winslow's write-up). He also ranks a guy as 20th that's never played a single down of nfl ball.

I'd have more respect from a TE-ranking-write-up done by a guy off of this board than I do for this overpaid pundit's average material

ikestops85
05-20-2009, 05:17 PM
Winslow rated better than Heath?...Based on what? Results?!? Promise?!?

WTF?...Winslow has one good season, whereas Heath has had several good ones - plus he's a winner, not a whiner. Shows what a famous name will do for you....

I think what is worse is Winslow is rated higher than Antonio Gates. In my opinion Gates should be #2. He is a threat even with his injury problems as of late.

Oracle
05-20-2009, 07:16 PM
i'm glad. maybe we can re-sign him for cheaper if he's viewed as being ranked that low.

jj28west
05-20-2009, 08:57 PM
I am suprised Vernon Davis has not become a top tier TE. I dont know if its the team, offensive philosophy, or if he is in Singletary's doghouse.

RuthlessBurgher
05-21-2009, 09:23 AM
I am suprised Vernon Davis has not become a top tier TE. I dont know if its the team, offensive philosophy, or if he is in Singletary's doghouse.

Or possibly the fact that he was a combine workout warrior as opposed to an elite football player. Just because you are a freak of nature athletically does not make you a top tier player in this league.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-21-2009, 10:25 AM
Honestly I was surprised to see Heath that high. We, as Steeler fans, know how good he is and his value to the team. However, most writers just look at numbers and name recognition. Heath does not rank real high in either. I was shocked to see Cooley behind him.

100$handshake
05-21-2009, 11:55 AM
The media has zero clue about how to evaluate a tight end. Miller does everything well not just catch passes. Most of these guys take the play off if it's not a pass.

ikestops85
05-21-2009, 12:09 PM
Whatever happened to that Steeler Shades guy that kept telling me Heath was a terrible blocker last year. He didn't care what the scouts or former player analysts said he could tell that just by watching. :roll: