The bulk of NFL free agent signings are now in the rear view as the start of training camp is only a few weeks away. While some additions could still be forthcoming, we have a good idea of where each AFC North team’s depth chart stands ahead of the 2023 season.
Looking at both sides of the ball, how does everyone’s positional groups stack up to one another in the division? Let’s break down another offensive skill position — tight end.
1. Baltimore Ravens
Starter: Mark Andrews
Depth: Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Pat Ricard (FB)
The Ravens return their same tight end core from last season and remain atop the list. Mark Andrews is the best tight end in the division and one of the top players at the position in the league. Andrews could potentially produce even more efficiently with less defensive attention given the improved pass-catchers around him.
This group’s potential is untapped if rising sophomores Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar, the latter of which essentially redshirted in 2022, develop in Year 2. Likely finished Top 5 on the Ravens in receiving last year. Pat Ricard’s presence as a hybrid fullback/tight end, one of NFL’s best blockers in that role, only strengthens the collective.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
Starter: Pat Freiermuth
Depth: Darnell Washington, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
In his second season, Freiermuth took a step forward with 63 catches and over 700 receiving yards. That production was second to only Andrews among all tight ends in the division. Pittsburgh’s addition of Washington in the draft has widely been viewed as tremendous value despite injury concerns. If the rookie can be healthy, he’s talented enough to be an immediate contributor and give the Steelers a strong duo.
Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward, brother of Pittsburgh’s longtime All-Pro defensive lineman Cam Heyward, round out the depth chart at No. 3 and No. 4.
3. Cleveland Browns
Starter: David Njoku
Depth: Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant
The Browns re-signed Njoku this offseason after rumors of a potential parting of ways. Njoku approached or surpassed previous career-best numbers across the board in 2022 with 58 catches, 628 receiving yards and four scores in just 14 games.
They also added Jordan Akins from the Houston Texans, who scored five touchdowns last season with nearly 500 receiving yards. That addition gives the Browns some solid depth with Bryant entering his fourth career season as the No. 3 tight end. Bryant caught a career-high 31 passes last season.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Starter: Irv Smith Jr.
Depth: Drew Sample, Devin Asiasi
After losing Hayden Hurst in free agency, the Bengals will have a new starting tight end for the third consecutive season. Hurst’s 52 receptions and 414 receiving yards ranked No. 5 on the team in 2022. They’re replacing with him with Irv Smith Jr., who they signed from the Minnesota Vikings to a one-year deal.
Smith Jr. is an athletic 24-year-old with untapped upside but has struggled to stay healthy recently. He missed the entire 2021 season and played in only eight games last year; he’s started 15 of 37 appearances for his career. Former second-round pick Drew Sample is entering his fifth season and has yet to emerge as a receiving threat.
Which team has the best tight end group in the AFC North?
This poll is closed