AFC North Ranked: Top 4 TEs in the Division

AFC North Ranked: Top 4 TEs in the Division

Tyler Vaysman
3 years ago
2 min read
AFC North Ranked: Top 4 TEs in the Division

With the 2021 NFL season set to kick-off in less than two months, pundits and fans alike are forecasting the strengths and weaknesses of each team and division in the NFL.

With respect to the NFC West, the AFC North is expected to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, and one of the reasons is because of their play from the tight end position. Although nobody in the division has a huge name like a Gronk or a Kelce, there is quality permeating throughout the entire division.

Here is our ranking of AFC North starting tight ends heading into the fall.

No. 1: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Andrews, a Pro-Bowler and former unanimous All-American at Oklahoma, has been a favorite target of quarterback Lamar Jackson since he was drafted in 2018. He is yet to record a 1,000-yard-receiving season, though that is indicative of Baltimore’s run-centric approach and not his talent. With 17 touchdowns in his last 29 games, the 6-foot-5 pass-catcher is the best in the division.

No. 2: Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

The former Atlanta Falcon had a down year numbers-wise, only grabbing 46 catches for 435 yards, but that was to be expected when he joined a team that was loaded with offensive talent. Hooper is a two-time Pro-Bowler and has one of the biggest catching radiuses in football for a tight end, and most importantly, he is unselfish. Flanked by Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Harrison Bryant, and David Njoku, Hooper is one of Cleveland’s many bright spots at skill positions.

No. 3: Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ebron benefitted from the second-most targets in his seven-year career last season, his first in Pittsburgh, snatching 56 balls for 558 yards and five touchdowns. More importantly, though, Ebron only missed one game last season despite his record as an injury-riddled player that often goes missing in late fall to early winter. With Big Ben still at QB and Najee Harris joining the backfield, the former Indianapolis Colt and Detroit Lion should expect to see extra passes out of play-action.

No. 4: Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals

Last year was Sample’s first as a starter after he only caught five balls the season prior; in 2020, he managed 40 catches for 349 yards despite playing without starting QB Joe Burrow for the final six games. He has only caught one touchdown in his two-year career and needs to improve on getting open in the red zone, though he has proven to be a valuable blocker in goal-to-go situations.

Honorable Mention: Harrison Bryant, Cleveland Browns

Bryant impressed in limited stretches during his rookie season in 2020, securing 24 receptions for 238 yards and four touchdowns. An athletic 6-foot-5, 243-pound pass-catcher, Bryant won the John Mackey Award, presented to college football’s most outstanding tight end, at Florida Atlantic University in 2019. He has already usurped David Njoku in the pecking order and could be a starting option if the Browns look to get off of Austin Hooper’s contract.

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