The list of serious candidates to be considered among the best tight ends in 2023 is probably even longer than it was a year ago.
Granted, when it comes to the top tight ends in the NFL, it’s usually obvious who belongs at the top of the list. But since we wanted to create a list of the 10 best tight ends currently, the number of candidates is quite long.
Ranking the best tight ends in 2023
Among football positions, tight end usually seems to go overlooked. However, we know that the top tight ends in the NFL are always difference-makers.
In fact, the list of tight ends in the NFL capable of making a significant impact for their team gets longer every year. That’s why it was quite a challenge coming up with a fair ranking for the 10 best tight ends in 2023.
10. Evan Engram
After setting a career-high for receiving yards last year, it’s possible that Evan Engram is finally reaching his full potential. The Jaguars were certainly convinced enough by his performance to use the franchise tag on the former first-round pick.
He’s always had flashes of brilliance throughout his career, even if Engram has struggled to find consistency. Engram will turn 29 in September, so time is starting to run out. But there is still a chance for him to build off of last season and put together another productive season in Jacksonville.
9. Dalton Schultz
It remains to be seen how a move from the Cowboys to the Texans will impact Dalton Schultz. But he did more than enough during his time in Dallas to be considered among the top 10 tight ends in the league.
Schultz was a non-factor during his first two years in the league but has grown by leaps and bounds over the last three seasons. He’s averaged 66 catches per year over the last three seasons, scoring 17 touchdowns during that span. Schultz may never reach the elite class of NFL tight ends, but he’s surely better than most.
8. T.J. Hockenson
Even after going to the Pro Bowl twice in the last three years, the jury is still out on T.J. Hockenson. He’s had great moments but hasn’t always been consistent. His numbers went down from 2020 to 2021, as they did when he was traded to Minnesota last year.
After the trade to the Vikings, Hockenson caught 60 passes in 10 games but averaged less than nine yards per catch. That being said, Hockenson’s upside is undeniable, especially when it comes to being a target in the red zone, which is why he can’t be overlooked as one of the best tight ends in 2023.
7. Pat Freiermuth
During his first two seasons in the NFL, Pat Freiermuth has slowly worked his way toward being considered one of the best tight ends in the league. Keep in mind the Steelers drafted Freiermuth in the second round of the 2021 Draft, so they had high hopes for him.
He’s caught at least 60 passes in each of his first two seasons in the league but improved from 8.3 yards per catch in 2021 to 11.6 yards per catch last year. But it seems like Freiermuth is yet to reach his full potential, which could set him up for an even more impressive season in 2023, especially if the Steelers can get more consistent quarterback play from Kenny Pickett.
6. Darren Waller
By trading for Darren Waller back in March, the Giants are betting on him being able to get back to being the player he was in 2019 and 2020. Over those two seasons, Waller had over 2,300 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, becoming one of the elite tight ends in the NFL.
However, he’s played just 20 games over the past two seasons, barely reaching 1,000 receiving yards total over that span despite becoming the highest-paid tight end in the league. Obviously, there are now reasons to be skeptical of Waller, who will turn 31 in September and is no spring chicken. But it’d be a mistake to write him off just yet.
5. Dallas Goedert
It’s almost unfathomable to believe that Dallas Goedert is yet to be selected for the Pro Bowl. After sharing the spotlight with Zach Ertz early in his career, Goedert’s productivity has increased significantly over the last two seasons.
Despite being limited to 12 games last year, he played a pivotal role in getting the Eagles to the Super Bowl as the team’s no. 3 receiver. While he still has some room for improvement when it comes to finding the end zone, Goedert has still emerged as one of the most consistent tight ends in the NFL.
4. Kyle Pitts
Over the last decade, few tight ends have entered the league with expectations as high as Kyle Pitts had. The Falcons made him the fourth overall pick in the draft in 2021, expecting him to be an immediate game-changer. He was exactly that, amassing over 1,000 receiving yards and going to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Of course, that was with Matt Ryan as his quarterback. In his second season, Pitts took a step backward, largely because of less reliable quarterback play and injuries that limited him to 10 games. But 2023 will be a new season for Pitts, giving him a chance to pick up where he left off as a rookie. Thanks to his disappointing season, Pitts doesn’t have the same track record of consistency as some other tight ends. But in terms of talent, there aren’t many tight ends in the league on his level.
3. George Kittle
It’s been a few years since we’ve seen George Kittle at his best. He was a force to be reckoned with in 2018 and 2019 but has failed to get back to 1,000 receiving yards in three straight seasons.
However, Kittle is coming off 11 touchdown catches in 2022, and that was with three different starting quarterbacks. Even with his numbers dropping off just a little bit, Kittle has still been to the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons and figures to be one of the NFL’s best tight ends in 2023.
2. Mark Andrews
With three Pro Bowl selections in the past four years, Mark Andrews has emerged as one of the elite tight ends in the league. Two years ago, Andrews led all tight ends in receptions and receiving yards while tying for the most touchdowns.
Even with the injuries to Lamar Jackson in recent years and some instability at quarterback in Baltimore, Andrews has maintained a high level of play.
1. Travis Kelce
Until further notice, it’s a safe assumption that Travis Kelce will be ranked first on any list of the top tight ends in the NFL. There’s already an argument that he should be on the shortlist of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. He’s been to eight consecutive Pro Bowls and looks unstoppable at times with Patrick Mahomes delivering him the football.
Among tight ends, Kelce has led the NFL in receiving in three of the last four seasons, including his single-season record of 1,416 yards in 2020. Likewise, he’s had the most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in three consecutive years. Kelce has put together seven straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and still appears to be at the top of his game, so no other tight end in the league is anywhere close to his level.