John Clayton’s recent list of the NFL’s top 10 tight ends didn’t include anyone from the AFC South.
If he does a similar list in a year, will that change?
There are a lot of quality tight ends in the division, but they all carry questions. I don’t know if any can match the production of New England’s Rob Gronkowski or New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, who are setting the standard for the new breed of players at the position.
Tennessee’s Jared Cook can be an extremely dangerous receiver. But through three seasons he’s been quite inconsistent. He finished with three very good games last year. That’s great and hopefully something to build on, but it’s hard not to wonder about why he wasn’t more effective in the rest of the games. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer seemed reluctant to really plan a game with a lot in it for Cook, who could fare better if Jake Locker is at quarterback rather than Matt Hasselbeck.
Houston’s Owen Daniels is an excellent pass catcher who can be a vital piece of the team’s offense. But he carries health questions. He played in every game last year but didn’t seem like the same guy he was before he missed five games in 2010 with a hamstring issue. He broke his hand in the Texans' first playoff game, but played with the injury in the second game. With the versatile Joel Dreessen gone, and the right side of the line being rebuilt, Daniels could be called on to block more.
Indianapolis will build a lot of its offense around Andrew Luck-to-Coby Fleener. Fleener, the team’s second-round pick, should be a primary target for his college teammate and could quickly earn a high ranking among the league’s tight ends.
Jacksonville’s Marcedes Lewis suffered a terrible drop-off in 2011 after a super-productive 2010 and a new contract. He was dealing with some difficult off-the-field issues, but needed to compartmentalize better to perform on Sundays. As part of a new offense, can he bounce back as a weapon or will the team be left to talk of his blocking?
Who will be regarded as the best after 16 games this fall and winter? Please chime in on our poll.