Ranking the AFC East's tight ends

March, 29, 2011
3/29/11
5:26
PM ET
To play off ESPN.com's positional Power Rankings, I've broken down the AFC East's best tight ends.

Here's how I slot them:
  1. Dustin Keller, New York Jets
  2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
  3. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
  4. Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins
  5. Alge Crumpler, New England Patriots
  6. Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets
  7. David Martin, Buffalo Bills
  8. Jonathan Stupar, Buffalo Bills
  9. Mickey Shuler, Miami Dolphins

The first five are obvious. Keller is the most dangerous tight end in the division. I ranked him sixth in the NFL on my ballot.

But if Gronkowski and Hernandez didn't have to share touches, then one of them might surpass Keller. Gronkowski and Hernandez combined for 87 catches, 1,109 yards and 16 touchdowns.

ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer thought Gronkowski was snubbed from the overall top 10 list and called him "a dominant blocker in-line ... almost like another tackle" and said "he will be the premier tight end in the NFL in the next few years."

Fasano is next in the AFC East with 39 receptions for 528 yards and four touchdowns, but the stats plummet after that. Crumpler is next because of his blocking skills and knowledge he can make the play if the Patriots depended on it.

From there, I sorted them based on speculation.

Cumberland, an undrafted rookie, was deactivated for 15 games. But I saw enough of the physical specimen in training camp and the preseason to imagine him contributing more to the Bills than Martin (seven receptions, one touchdown) or Stupar (12 receptions, no TDs).

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