ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler spoke with more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to get their answers.
It has been an ongoing discussion for the past few seasons. Who is the best tight end in the NFL?
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN released the results of a poll he conducted among NFL team employees on the best tight ends in the league, and Kittle comes in at No. 1.
Kittle once again outdistanced Travis Kelce in a tight race for the top spot. Despite missing eight games with a nagging foot injury, Kittle’s impact was felt leaguewide. The 49ers fell from fourth to 15th in total offense without Kittle and his quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, for much of the year.
Kittle was still on pace for 96 catches and 1,300 yards over 16 games. He created separation on his routes (3.78 yards away from nearest defender at time of pass arrival) and posted 296 yards after catch.
“He moves after the catch better than anyone, he’s the toughest on the list, the best blocker, and he can catch 100 passes in the right offense,” an AFC scout said.
Added a veteran NFL offensive player: “Kelce beats people up with routes — Kittle doesn’t but he is just so strong and fast that he wins that way.”
When healthy, Kittle is an absolute game-changer for San Francisco. He played 30 out of a possible 32 games during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, totaling 173 receptions for 2,430 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Kittle is also a big part of the 49ers’ run game. He’s one of the best blockers in the NFL and helps create open lanes for San Francisco’s speedy backs.
George Kittle’s block rating:
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 17, 2020
He’s also a monster with the ball in his hands. Alongside teammates Deebo Samuel, Kittle has ranked in the top 35 of all NFL players when it comes to yards after catch per reception for the past two seasons. In addition, the tight end had the third-most YAC yards in the league in 2019.
General manager John Lynch and co. rewarded Kittle with a well-deserved five-year, $75 million contract, an NFL record for tight ends.
Kittle’s health is imperative to the 49ers’ success. San Francisco is 15-7 with him in the lineup over the past two seasons.
The folks over at Arrowhead Pride disagree with Kittle being ranked above Kelce.
How do you rank as your top five tight ends in the NFL?