The top two tiers at the TE position have
held steady in the last couple of months. Rob
Graham and Aaron
Hernandez continue to be the cream of the crop at the position.
Gronkowski may be earning a reputation as a guy that plays hard
and parties hard, but he is only 23 years old and plays for a
quality organization in New England. I like his odds of eventually
becoming smarter about his off-field antics. Following closely
behind the top trio is the one-man tier consisting of Jason
Witten. The veteran Cowboy may have lost a step with his advancing
age, but he is still finding a way to put up very good numbers.
The fact that heíll turn 31 years old before the 2013 season starts
is the primary reason he isnít firmly planted in the first tier.
The third grouping of TEs is somewhat of a hodgepodge of players,
many of whom have high ceilings. Kyle Rudolph and Jermaine Gresham
have both been impressive in stretches, but have not yet realized
their fullest potential. If they do take their game to the next
level, they have an outside shot of eventually climbing into the
first tier, but Iím not holding my breath. With a relatively
strong finish to the 2012 season, Jermichael Finley could end
up staying with Green Bay, and remains situated in the third tier
for the time being. He hasnít lived up to the crazy hype
from a couple of years ago, but Finley isnít a total fantasy
Moving onto the next tier, Martellus Bennett is ranked as the
13th TE. He was effective for New York in 2012 and whether he
stays with his current squad or signs with a team such as Tampa
Bay, Bennett appears likely be a solid producer over the next
couple of years. Antonio Gates was very disappointing last season,
despite the fact he was able to play in 15 games. The San Diego
air attack isnít what it used to be, and probably not coincidentally,
neither is Gates. Sticking on the topic of veteran TEs, Tony Gonzalez
was excellent in what could be his last season in the league.
If Atlanta can convince him to make one last run at a ring, he
should once again put up big numbers, but itís a big if
at this point.
The fifth and sixth tiers are largely comprised of merely serviceable
players and deep sleepers. Jordan Cameron could emerge this season
with a bigger role in Cleveland, particularly if the team sees
better QB play. To the surprise of many, including me, Jacob Tamme
didnít pan out in Denver this past season, posting only
555 receiving yards and 2 TDs. He wasnít able to recreate
the magic he had with Manning back in 2010. However, his teammate
in Denver, Julius Thomas, is a guy to keep a close eye on. Thomasí
size and athleticism paired with Manningís savvy and football
IQ has a lot of potential.
Next: Running Backs