Top 12 tight ends entering NFL Week 11

Tennessee's Delanie Walker is PFF's No. 2 tight end through Week 10. Eric Eager highlights the frontrunners of the position.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Top 12 tight ends entering NFL Week 11

Tight end is a unique position, in that there are many distinct ways one can positively impact an offense. Differences can stem both from where a player lines up (inline, in the backfield, in the slot, or out wide) and what he does from those positions (blocking and/or receiving). As he has for the entire season, Rob Gronkowski tops our list of the top 12 tight ends through the first 10 weeks of 2015, combining brilliant work as a receiver (97.6) with superb blocking (89.3).

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (98.1 overall grade)

Gronkowski has compiled 806 receiving yards on 332 route run, good for a league-leading 2.43 yards per route run among TEs. His run blocking grade of 89.3 is also the best among TEs.

2. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (88.6)

Only three years removed from dropping 9-of-30 catchable passes for the 49ers in 2012 (worst drop percentage among TEs that season), Walker has only one drop in 46 catchable passes this year (third-best drop percentage among TEs in 2015).

3. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (85.4)

Even after a rough Monday night showing as both a receiver and a blocker, Eifert remains one of the top TEs in the league, turning 53 targets into 460 yards and nine touchdowns, while forcing four missed tackles. His nine receiving touchdowns are a league-best among all NFL positions.

4. Jordan Reed, Washington (84.8)

Despite missing time due to injury, Reed is tied for fifth among TEs in missed tackles forced (six), and is fourth in touchdowns (six).

5. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (84.4)

Ertz has caught three of the seven deep passes thrown his way, good for 78 yards, with zero drops and a third-best 42.9 catch rate among qualified TEs on deep passes.

6. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (82.0)

Gates plays the largest percentage of his snaps (74.8 percent) from the slot among all qualifying TEs. He also has the third-best yards per route run (2.02) from the slot, with no drops.


7. Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens (79.2)

One of three Ravens on this list, Gillmore is also one of three qualifying TEs that has not allowed pressure in any of his 47 passing-blocking snaps, good for a perfect pass blocking efficiency.

8. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (78.4)

Olsen is second among TEs with 2.37 yards per route run, compiling a team-leading 664 receiving yards on 280 routes run for the undefeated Panthers. 

9. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (77.7)

Much like his team, Bennett has rebounded from a slow start to post a 78.8 run block grade in 272 run snaps, good for sixth among TEs. He has finished with a positive PFF run blocking grade every season of his career. 

10. Maxx Williams, Baltimore Ravens (77.6)

The rookie has caught 16-of-23 targets in only 213 snaps, with zero drops. Williams has also been solid as a run blocker (73.7), and a pass blocker (72.3).

11. Nick Boyle, Baltimore Ravens (77.4)

Boyle has forced four missed tackles on 14 receptions (in 15 targets) on just 212 snaps.  Like his teammate, Williams, Boyle has been solid in pass blocking (85.7) as well. 

12. Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers (76.8)

Like his teammate Antonio Gates, Green plays a lot out of the slot (65.8 percent), where he has caught 12-of -17 targets for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

To see where every NFL tight end ranks this season, access PFF 2015 Player Grades now.

| Analyst

Eric Eager joined Pro Football Focus in 2015. He is currently working on a number of analytics projects, primarily focused on the NFL.

  • tyler

    wait, on your homepage you have travis kelce as the #6 tight end with a 79 grade. He’s not listed in the top 12 here. Did he have a -2 grade in the denver game? 5 catches on 9 targets.


      They must’ve changed it because he’s not there anymore.

    • Brandon

      Your right he should be up there even tho he’s coming off a bad game catching 5 passes for 36 yards he was still matched up against the top defense in the NFL. The chargers tight ends literally just sat on the bench to be projected ahead. They won’t have a good game against KC. All emphasis will be focused on Gates and Green because the chargers have no outside threats especially if they expect Malcom Floyd to play injured.

      • Eric

        Kelce had a wonderful year last year as a run blocker (and also as a receiver), which is why he was rated so highly coming into the year. This season he’s been far less sturdy as a run blocker (87th), but still solid as a receiver (6th best). He’s literally 13th right now, so my guess is that you’ll see him on this list again. Thanks for reading.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I think dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth when Antonio Gates was a rookie so the fact he can still be productive at his age gives all us old farts hope.

    • Hey

      You’re not funny you know.

    • Sincerly rude kimbely

      lame joke prostitute

  • Vitor

    The lack of receivers and the number of TEs listed here indicate that Baltimore should use a lot more of 2-TE sets?

    • Eric

      It would appear to make sense, especially given how well Forsett has run the past two years (this year he has a negative overall grade, but a positive run grade). Thanks for reading.

  • William Coffman

    Gary Barnidge deserves much better than he gets from PFF. He is easily having one of the top 3 seasons this year as a TE. Giving him ridiculously low blocking grades (you could make the same point by doubling them) is just a way of diminishing his outstanding performance catching passes….

    • Bengals are amazing


      • William Coffman
        • Bengals are amazing

          All I see is 2-8

          • William Coffman

            All is see is Cincinnati heading to playoffs and choking in Round One for a record number of seasons in a row because Dalton can’t play under pressure….

          • Eric

            Winning does correlate with better play, which may be the bias that you’re envisioning. However, the inclusion of three Ravens and two Chargers on this list may serve as a counterexample to your argument… Again, thanks for reading.

          • William Coffman

            Check out all player rankings across all positions and I believe you will see my argument is sustained…

          • Pete

            No doubt about Dalton under pressure.

          • Texansfan

            How does that Texans loss feel bumgal fan

        • Eric

          Barnage has the second-worst run blocking grade out of all of the TEs in the league. He has good statistics as a receiver, yes, but even then he’s just seventh in yards per route run, 15th in drop rate and 27th in completion pct on targets thrown his way. Thanks for reading.

          • William Coffman

            If he played for any other team he’d be ranked in top ten. Take a close look at PFF player rankings, and who the top ranked players play for. There is is substantial grade premium for playing for better teams. It is way past undeniable….

          • matt

            Imagine that. better teams have more highly ranked players than crappy teams do? that is crazy.

          • William Coffman

            Well, let’s see. The best defensive player in the NFL is JJ Watt. He plays for Houston. The best outside linebacker in football is Justin Houston. He plays for Kansas City. Todd Gurley plays for St Louis and Doug Martin plays for Tampa. D’Quell Jackson plays for Indiana. Navarro Bowman plays for San Francisco. Odell Beckham plays for the Giants. I could go on, but why bother….

          • matt

            Ok first i said better teams have more highly ranked players, which makes sense because generally speaking more highly ranked players would make your team better. I didn’t say bad teams have no highly ranked players as you’ve clearly determined i implied. and now i’m confused. in your post above you argued Barnidge would be higher ranked if he played for a good team and now you just pointed out several highly ranked players that play for bad teams. I must be missing something. The kid is a heck of a receiver but can’t block at all.

          • William Coffman

            Thanks for your comment. My original point is that Barnidge deserves a higher ranking from PFF. His blocking score could be twice what it is and still reflect weak blocking, and his blocking is still better than many of the backups in the league assigned higher blocking scores. I argue that PFF penalizes players who play for weaker teams in its scoring, and believe this bias can be seen when one assesses all PFF player scores. That is all….

          • Pete

            You got this one right in Barnridge and I agree with your assessment about PFF penalizing weaker teams with good players.

          • Pete

            Jamie Collins is the best outside linebacker so you prognosis already holds no value….I could go on, by why bother…

          • William Coffman

            It is easy to make the argument that Houston is the best OLB and countless others agree but you’re entitled to your opinion…

          • William Coffman

            It is true that Barnidge is not a very good run blocker. But giving him a run blocking grade twice what he has been given would adequately reflect this. Your observations, while accurate, do not reflect the fact that Barnidge is at or near the top in yards, receptions & TDs — all major statistical categories. By weighing both pass and run blocking separately as much as it does for TEs, PFF discounts the value of receiving — particularly where it gives absurdly low blocking grades as here — there are other TEs in the league who block worse than Barnidge (most of them are backups) who don’t have anywhere near as low blocking grades….

          • Jason Gomez

            Eric, he still gets me more points than Gates or Gilmore EVERY WEEK.

          • Eric

            There’s more to playing TE (and football in general) than putting up points in FFL. Thanks for reading.

          • William Coffman

            Gronkowski would neither be at the top of this list nor on this list if not for his spectacular receiving.

          • Pete

            The TE’s function in the last 10+ years is to be a receiver of the ball besides blocking. Gronkowski has great hands, is fast and agile for a big guy and a long reach to catch the ball. In other words …the best at this position. Your comment is idiotic….

          • William Coffman

            We are arguing whether blocking grades are overvaluedin PFF TE assessment. I am told by PFF author how important TE blocking is, which is why I mention importance of Gronkowski receiving to his value, a subject on which you apparently agree. Your comment is irrelevant….

      • William Coffman

        You know, that guy who’s having the kind of year at TE that JJ Watt is having at DE….

        • Ron Morisseau

          The same guy that you will have to pay “big bucks” to resign next year

          • William Coffman

            You’re right — when a player in a contract year puts up stats in the top three at his position, he earns a bump in pay. Still glad to have him break out. Browns need all the help we can get….especially after losing Jordan Cameron to Miami….

    • JMark

      Just clarifying that you realize Browns are on a bye, right?! Or are you speaking to his typical ranking?

      Also, in any week Manziel starts, Barnidge shouldn’t even be on your radar and should easily fall out of the top 10.

      • William Coffman

        Speaking to his general ranking by PFF. Despite repeated miracle catches, top three stats in several major categories, and general receiving magnificence this year, Barnidge gets no love from PFF because he plays for Browns. As to the fact that McCown favors Barnidge more than Manziel, that is true. So far. Small sample.

        • JMark

          “As to the fact that McCown favors Barnidge more than Manziel, that is true. So far. Small sample.”

          I’m not even talking about who Manziel favors, but who is the better QB. I have Barnidge in numerous leagues, and think he’s a great pass catcher and can put up points. I simply won’t play stream him in DFS or play him in standard fantasy if Manziel is starting

  • Tim Edell

    Thanks for Reading!!!!

  • [email protected]

    I’ll take Greg Olsen over anybody besides Gronk right now

  • Ben M

    Gronk is a mutant. The man is seriously oversized compared to other NFL people. He just steps over the Lilliputians. Olsen is nearly the only set of reliable hands on the Panthers in the 1st half of 2015. But others are starting to slowly step up.

    • Pete

      There are a lot of big TE’s out there but what makes Gronk so special is 1) he has big and reliable hands. 2) he’s a lot faster than everyone thinks. 3) he has good shifty movements for a big guy 4) he’s been coached by the best in the business