The evolving tight end

Posted: June 21, 2013 in Football, New entries

The NFL Tight End position is changing how the game is played, and the importance for defenses to have athletic linebackers and large defensive backs.

NFL tight ends have become a prominent element in many passing attacks. In 2011, the New England Patriots found themselves blessed with an abundance of talent at the tight end position. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez had an historic season as the two combined for over 2,200 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns.

Aaron_Hernandez_cropped

Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez

What position player led their team in receptions for the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, and the Pittsburgh Steelers? You guessed it, the tight end. With the premium placed on pass rushers and shutdown corners, tight ends become even more central to an offense’s ability to move the chains.

Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez

Former Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers

Former Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers

Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham

Larger, more physical corners such as Richard Sherman, Charles Tillman (both 6’ 2”), and Brandon Browner (6’ 4”) make it more difficult for wide receivers to make a play on the ball in tight coverage and provide more balanced match ups against 6’ 5’’, 6’ 6’’ tight ends. The need for an increase in larger, more aggressive corners like Browner show evidence of the uptick in tight end usage in the passing game.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman

Young passers learn to lean on tall, athletic tight ends that can break away from the linebackers assigned to cover them. Alex Smith developed a healthy on the field relationship with Vernon Davis in San Francisco, Christian Ponder with Kyle Rudolph, as well as Andrew Luck with Dwayne Allen.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis

With the amount of talent at the tight end position, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a fan.

*All images courtesy of Wikimedia creative commons.

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