The NFL regular season opener is one week away, just a little reminder to keep you guys foaming at the mouths. In exactly 4 days we'll get the beginning of what I believe will be an amazing season, orchestrated by some of the most talented players that we have come accustomed to viewing. So in a celebration like mood, I will be ranking the best offensive skill players by position in the NFL. However this is not the same old simple 1-10, the rules are different. So here is the criteria for Gold and Silver players.
Gold Players: Plays at an elite-championship level, determines the outcome of a game based of his performance, creates mismatches for multiple players, is a premiere weapon on the field, & is rated in the upper level of his position.
Silver Players: Plays at an elite-championship level, impacts a game based of his performance, can't be eliminated by 1 vs 1 coverage, is a featured weapon on the field, & is rated towards the mid-level of his position.
Gold Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Jason Witten, & Vernon Davis
- Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in football. Not only do his stats back him up with 1,327 yds, and 17 tds but his blocking ability, along with his play making ability is sensational. Going into this season Gronk and his fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez look to continue their success as the league's deadliest tight end combo in hopes of making things easier for QB Tom Brady. When things get easy for Brady, you win games.
- Jimmy Graham is right behind Gronk for the title of best tight end. He also had a great season with 1,310 yds, and 11 tds. Being one of Drew Brees's top targets is a big help for this kid, but it works the other way around to. With his basketball background he uses his big frame to back down defenders, and make big time catches. Look for Graham to have another pro-bowl season.
- Aaron Hernandez is the other half of New England's deadly tight end combo. He's not as big as his partner Gronk but his exceptional route running, and receiver like speed makes him a mismatch as well. Hernandez was great last season putting up 910 yds, and 7 tds. Look for the Patriot's tight end based offense to benifit more from this guy, and it doesn't hurt him having Tom Brady as his QB.
- Jason Witten has been one of the most talented, and consistent tight ends in the NFL for quite some time now. He's also been Tony Romo's top target so his numbers have been pro-bowl like. Last season he had another good one racking up with 942 yds, and 5 tds. He's already had some injury issues, but if Witten can stay healthy look for him to have a great season.
- Vernon Davis had a nice bounce back season last year. With a better attitude thanks to his work ethic, and new head coach Jim Harbaugh, Davis blossomed into one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Last season he finished with 792 yds, and 6 tds. With his QB Alex Smith also blossoming at a very steady rate it'll be Davis's job to help him. Davis is also the fastest tight end in the NFL and with that on his side look for him to take advantage of most corners, and linebackers this season.
Silver Tight Ends: Jermichael Finley, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Fred Davis, & Brandon Pettigrew
- Jermichael Finley could have made won the Gold, however last season he had too many drop passes especially in the playoffs. Still it was a good season for him as he finished with 767 yds, and 8 tds. He should see more receptions come his way from MVP Aaron Rodgers despite how much he spreads the ball around. If Finley cleans up the drops look for him to have an even better season.
- Tony Gonzalez has been one of the best tight ends for a long time now. The 16 year veteran had another good season last year finishing with 875 yds, and 7 tds. He's not as fast as he was, or as athletic but he still puts up great numbers. His numbers may drop even more due to the presence of receivers Roddy White, and Julio Jones but I still see Gonzalez doing very well.
- Antonio Gates is another tight end that has been great for a long time. The 10 year vet has seen a dip in production however due to injury. Last season he battled injury, finishing with 778 yds, and 7 tds. If he can stay healthy this season he'll see a major up rising in his numbers, being QB Philip Rivers top target.
- Fred Davis is as talented as they come for the tight end position. He has also battled injuries, and a bit of off the field issues. He also had one of the worst QB situations with a combo of Rex Grossman, and John Beck. Last season he finished with 796 yds, and 3 tds. The difference for him this season is an upgrade at QB with Robert Griffin III. So if his health stays on the positive side, look for the RG3 to Davis connection to flourish this season.
- Brandon Pettigrew is a young tight end who is starting to come into his own. In that pass happy offense in Detroit he finally found his role, as the team's primary tight end. He finished with 777 yds, and 5 tds. With some experience under his belt the connection between him and QB Matthew Stafford will grow even more. I expect a better season for Pettigrew as he continues to grow.
Thanks for reading the Gold & Silver rankings for TEs. Tomorrow we will begin the defensive rankings starting with the Corners.
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