We are a little over halfway through the NFC East position group rankings, with our Dallas Cowboys in the “lead,” with three wins out of the first five groups.
Now we move to tight ends, a group which the Dallas Cowboys have dominated in over the last decade, but are beginning to fall behind the pack.
Like I said, the Cowboys have had Jason Witten since 2003. So they are used to being on top of the tight end category in the NFC East. However, the tide is beginning to turn as Witten ages and the younger Cowboys tight ends have yet to step up.
Witten had a lackluster season a year ago, partly because of the absence of Tony Romo. With his boy back, Witten should be back to catching those underneath and over the middle routes on third down, and will hopefully get his touchdown numbers back up.
But that isn’t enough to keep the Cowboys atop this category.
Gavin Escobar went missing in action last year after Romo’s first collarbone injury and has yet to really return. This may very well be his final season in Dallas, if he even gets that far.
James Hanna hasn’t provided much since he entered the league, but maybe that will change this season.
Dallas did draft former Baylor Bears basketball player Rico Gathers in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, and I expect him to make the practice squad as a tight end.
The Eagles are expected to carry four active tight ends this season, led by Zach Ertz.
Ertz and veteran Brent Celek may be the most consistent weapons in the pass game for the Eagles, and will be expected to carry the load of the offense in 2016.
Last year the two combined for 102 catches and over 1000 yards, but only tallied up 5 touchdowns. For the Eagles to be successful offensively, those touchdown numbers must improve.
Trey Burton and Chris Pantale will most likely be the other two tight ends on the roster, with Pantale serving a sort of fullback role as well.
The Giants tight end situation presents probably the biggest question mark on their entire offense.
Matt LaCosse has reportedly taken a good amount of first team tight end reps for the Giants during OTA’s and the early days of mini-camp.
With that being said, Will Tye and Larry Donnell both return, and both guys have produced at times. Tye and Donnell will be looked to as the first and second tight end options in the passing game.
Donnell will now be the veteran of this group, and is expected to return from his season ending injury stronger than ever (by Giants fans a writers).
The Giants also drafted South Carolina tight end Jerell Adams in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.
Oh, and my sort-of-hometown but really just home-state tight end Ryan Malleck is getting a chance to make the team.
2015 saw the rise of the new top tight end of the NFC East, Jordan Reed.
Now being one of the highest paid tight ends in the whole league, Reed is a serious threat to every defense who tries to contain him. He finished with 87 catches for just under 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Yeah, he’s pretty good. Luckily my Cowboys have Byron Jones, and I can’t wait to see those two match up twice a year for the forseeable future.
Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul each missed the 2015 season, but are returning for 2016. Both of these players are viable options to be the number two tight end behind Reed.
The Redskins did also add another big name tight end in Vernon Davis. The former 49ers and Broncos’ tight end is hoping to sort of revitalize his career in Washington behind Reed. If he can return to any resemblance of his old-49er form, he and Reed could create a deadly combination.
No, I don’t expect that out of Davis, but the Redskins have a solid tight end group regardless.
Who’s the best?
As much as I love future hall of famer Jason Witten, the Washington Redskins have the best tight end group out of the entire NFC East.
Jordan Reed is a top five tight end in the entire NFL, while Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen, and Vernon Davis provide solid depth at the position.
With the best receiving group and now the best tight end group in the entire division, the Redskins have put together a dangerous offense which will give teams problems in 2016.