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2020 AFC North Positional Rankings: Tight End

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As the dog days of the NFL offseason continue to settle in, each team’s roster is pretty much set with free agency and the draft in the rear view mirror. Therefore, it’s an opportune time to detox with our annual positional rankings for the AFC North.

Continuing with the offensive theme, we’ll examine the final skill position in this segment by ranking each team’s tight end group.

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Additionally, you can find last year’s rankings here. Check out the listing below, vote on the corresponding poll and join in on the conversation!


1) Baltimore Ravens

Starter: Nick Boyle

Depth Chart: Mark Andrews, Charles Scarff, Jacob Breeland, Eli Wolf

Baltimore’s three-headed monster at tight end was trimmed to two after Hayden Hurst was traded to the Falcons in free agency. Still, with Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle still in the fold, talent, continuity and usage is enough to keep the Ravens at No. 1 here.

Boyle is listed as the “starter” only because he plays the majority of snaps due to his blocking prowess. Andrews, on the other hand, was essentially a designated receiver last season and did a tremendous job serving as Lamar Jackson’s go-to target.

Andrews reeled in 64 receptions, 10 of which were touchdowns, and posted 852 receiving yards. Among all tight ends, he ranked 1st in touchdowns and 7th in yardage. His YPC average of 13.3 was higher than Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Darren Waller.

Andrews deservedly made the Pro Bowl and did so while getting nicked up numerous times throughout the season. Boyle caught 31 passes for 321 receiving yards and two touchdowns, the first two scores of his career.

To replace Hurst, the Ravens are expected to turn to one of Charles Scarff, Jacob Breeland and Eli Wolf. Scarff was an UDFA in 2018 while the latter two were signed as UDFA’s just a few months ago.

Poll

Where would you rank the Ravens in the TE ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    First
    (494 votes)
  • 10%
    Second
    (58 votes)
  • 0%
    Third
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Fourth
    (6 votes)
563 votes total Vote Now

2) Cleveland Browns

Starter: Austin Hooper

Depth Chart: David Njoku, Harrison Bryant

Based on pass-catching talent alone, there’s a case to be made that the Browns belong in the top spot on this list. Cleveland signed Austin Hooper to a four-year, $44 million contract in free agency with $23 million guaranteed, making him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end.

This likely represents an overpay but the dynamic of Hooper and David Njoku as a 1-2 punch should give the Browns’ offense another added dimension.

Njoku established himself as a capable TE1 in 2018 but caught only five passes in four appearances last season. Prior to that, though, Njoku had totaled 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his first two campaigns.

To round out the group, the Browns added Florida Atlantic’s Harris Bryant in the fourth round of the draft.

Poll

Where would you rank the Browns in the TE ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    First
    (59 votes)
  • 62%
    Second
    (235 votes)
  • 18%
    Third
    (68 votes)
  • 3%
    Fourth
    (14 votes)
376 votes total Vote Now

3) Pittsburgh Steelers

Starter: Vance McDonald

Depth Chart: Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry

The Steelers added Eric Ebron in free agency with the hopes that he can rekindle his 2018 form, where he emerged as a legitimate TE1 and Pro Bowl talent.

During that season, with Andrew Luck at the helm, Ebron scored 13 times and caught 66 receptions for 750 receiving yards. His production fell in 2019 amid injuries, though, as he suited up in 11 games and caught just 31 passes for 375 yards.

Ebron joins a tight end group featuring returning starter Vance McDonald, another pass-catcher whose production suffered without Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup. McDonald caught 50 balls for over 600 receiving yards in 2018, but those numbers fell to 38 catches and 273 receiving yards last season. He averaged a measly 7.2 YPC and played 14 games.

If McDonald and Ebron can bounce back, the Steelers might have themselves a very strong duo at the position. Zach Gentry caught only one pass in his rookie campaign but may have some untapped potential in the tank considering his athletic traits and size.

Poll

Where would you rank the Steelers in the TE ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    First
    (12 votes)
  • 17%
    Second
    (61 votes)
  • 66%
    Third
    (228 votes)
  • 12%
    Fourth
    (42 votes)
343 votes total Vote Now

4) Cincinnati Bengals

Starter: C.J. Uzomah

Depth Chart: Drew Sample, Mason Schreck, Cethan Carter

A pretty distant fourth in these rankings, the Bengals’ tight end core leaves much to be desired in terms of excitement. After losing Tyler Eifert to the Jaguars in free agency, Cincinnati is set to deploy a combination of C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample and rookie Mason Shrek at the position.

Uzomah has taken on starting duties at times in Eifert’s injury absence over the past few seasons. In 2018, he posted career-highs in receptions (43), receiving yards (439) and touchdowns (3), but was rendered relatively ineffective last season.

The Bengals used a second-round pick on Drew Sample in the 2018 draft but he’s more a blocker than pass-catcher. Sample appeared in nine games last season and caught just five receptions for 30 receiving yards.

After this duo, Mason Schreck and Cethan Carter round out the corps.

Poll

Where would you rank the Bengals in the TE ranking?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    First
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Second
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Third
    (18 votes)
  • 90%
    Fourth
    (283 votes)
313 votes total Vote Now