The first time I saw a tight end make a one-handed catch while balancing on the sideline, I realized the sheer athleticism and finesse required for the position. These players, often towering and muscular, exhibit a balletic grace that belies their size. They’re a testament to the notion that football isn’t just about brute strength – it’s also an art. As we venture into 2023, the canvas of the NFL is adorned with tight ends who are not only masters of this art but are also rewriting the playbook on what’s possible. Let’s delve into the world of these exceptional athletes and discover who stands out as the top tight end in NFL of 2023.
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce has established himself as one of the most dominant tight ends in NFL history. Here’s a brief overview of his career and the reasons behind his stature:
Kelce has accumulated impressive statistics throughout his career. As of the data available, he has played in 143 career games, achieving 814 receptions for 10,344 yards and 69 touchdowns. Such numbers place him among the elite tight ends in NFL history.His consistency is evident from his 1,548 receiving yards, which are the league’s best for tight ends and second-most amongst all NFL pass catchers in the postseason
Kelce’s list of accomplishments is extensive. He has been selected to multiple Pro Bowls and has earned accolades that few tight ends have achieved. When discussing tight ends in 2023, Travis Kelce stands uncontested as the No. 1 tight end, with some even suggesting he might be the best in NFL history. Kelce is nearing historical records, needing just eight more receiving touchdowns to surpass Pro Football Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez.
Given his extraordinary talent, consistent performance, and numerous accolades, it’s clear why many consider Travis Kelce the best tight end in the NFL today.
George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle has firmly established himself as one of the premier tight ends in the NFL. Entering the league in 2017, Kittle was not initially projected as a top tight-end prospect, with some football analysts rating him as the fifth or sixth-best in his draft class.
But George prove them all wrong. Several attributes make Kittle stand out. He is often described as an extra offensive lineman due to his exceptional blocking ability, which distinguishes him from many of his peers. This prowess in blocking has led to many in the football community describing him as a “blocking machine” that can effortlessly run over defenders. Yet, he’s not only adept at creating pathways for his teammates but is also a significant threat in the receiving game.
By 2022, Kittle’s consistent and dominating performances on the field earned him the rank of the second-best tight end in the NFL by Pro Football Focus (PFF). This recognition, combined with the skills he brings to the field, has solidified his reputation as one of the NFL’s best tight ends in recent times.
T.J. Hockenson – Minnesota Vikings
T.J. Hockenson has quickly risen to prominence within the NFL ranks, establishing himself as a top tight end. Chosen in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Hockenson, a standout from the University of Iowa, made a swift transition to the NFL, securing a Pro Bowl nomination just in his second year. By 2023, he emerged as a key player for the Detroit Lions, being lauded as one of the top tight end in NFL.
Achieving the 1,000-yard receiving milestone showcases Hockenson’s prowess as an elite pass-catching tight end. Moreover, his impressive statistics emphasize his significance to the Lions’ offensive strategy. Beyond being a dependable receiver, Hockenson’s blocking skills further accentuate his versatility, marking him as a dual-threat on the field. Pro Football Focus recognizes his combined skills, ranking him as the third-best tight end in the NFL. Even during the Lions’ challenging seasons, Hockenson has shone brightly, consistently performing at an elite level.
Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons
Pitts’ journey to NFL stardom began with his selection as one of the highest-drafted tight ends in league history. Such an early selection was met with skepticism by some, questioning the wisdom of investing a top-10 pick on a tight end. However, Pitts quickly silenced the doubters with his performance on the field.
His physical ability, combining speed, strength, and intelligence, is unmatched, making him an ideal fit for the evolving strategies of modern NFL playbooks. These attributes not only make him a significant threat in the passing game but also a valuable asset in blocking schemes.
Expected to join the ranks of the NFL’s elite tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, and Travis Kelce, Pitts’ career trajectory has only been upward. As of 2022, RotoWire’s projections even suggested that Pitts is “clearly on course to be the best tight end ever”.
Maturity beyond his years also plays a significant role in his success. With a well-defined plan from the beginning of his career, Kyle Pitts has showcased not only his athletic prowess but also his dedication and strategic approach to the game.
Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens
As of 2023, Andrews has had an impressive career. He has played in 81 games and has made 356 receptions for a total of 4538 yards, averaging 12.7 yards per reception. He has also scored 37 touchdowns2. In the 2023 season, he has made 24 receptions for a total of 294 yards and scored 3 touchdowns1.
Andrews’ performance has been consistently high, making him one of the top tight end in the NFL in 2023. According to PFF’s rankings, Andrews is considered an elite tight end, second only to Travis Kelce3. Over the past two years, Andrews ranks second in targets (8.1), receptions (5.6), receiving yards (69.0), and receiving PPR points (15.15) per game among tight ends4. His connection with quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the best in the league, and he has proven to be a steady and reliable weapon over the middle of the field5.
However, if there’s one area where Andrews could improve, it’s his ability after the catch. In 2022, he forced just three missed tackles and averaged a middling 3.6 yards after the catch per reception3. Despite this, his overall performance and contribution to his team have solidified his position as one of the best tight ends in the NFL.