More than ever before, the best tight ends in the NFL are among the top overall playmakers in the league. While it was tough limiting ourselves to the 10 best tight ends in the NFL right now, we had to put together preseason NFL player rankings for such an important but still overlooked position.
Best tight ends in NFL
Of course, choosing among the top tight ends in 2022 wasn’t easy. The top of the list may have been easy, but there are so many top TEs in the NFL right now that choosing what tight end should be ranked where was a difficult task.
Nevertheless, here is our ranking of the 10 best tight ends in the NFL ahead of the 2022 season.
10. Zach Ertz
We’ve certainly not seen the best from Zach Ertz over the past two seasons. An injury limited him to 11 games in 2020 and he had to deal with a midseason trade last year. But the veteran should be ready to get back on track this year during his first full season with the Cardinals.
That’s not to say that he should be expected to reach the same level he had in 2018 when Ertz set the NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season. Keep in mind that he’ll be 32 by the end of the season. But a healthy Ertz can still be a difference-maker and still deserves to be discussed among the league’s top tight ends.
9. T.J. Hockenson
T.J. Hockenson took a slight step back in his production last year after going to the Pro Bowl in 2020. But that was largely because he was sidelined by a thumb injury late in the season. For what it’s worth, he’s not yet fully lived up to the billing of a top-10 draft pick.
However, Hockenson has become a good red-zone target and also contributes as a blocker in the running game, so his value to the Lions extends far beyond his numbers as a pass-catching tight end.
8. Dalton Schultz
Dalton Schultz has more or less come out of nowhere over the past two seasons. He didn’t produce much during his first two seasons in the league, only to collect over 1,400 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two years.
Perhaps more importantly, he plays on a team that’s capable of doing some serious damage offensively. If he can build off of his last two seasons, Schultz could be among the most productive tight ends in the NFL in 2022.
7. Mike Gesicki
Mike Gesicki isn’t quite on the same level as the elite tight ends in the NFL, but he’s slowly getting close and could have a big year in 2022 if the Dolphins can get consistent quarterback play out of Tua Tagovailoa.
Despite only having two touchdowns last year, the Dolphins thought enough of Gesicki to place the franchise tag on him. Keep in mind that he’s amassed over 700 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons and is still in the prime of his career. If everything comes together for him this year, Gesicki could make a big leap and push for a 1,000-yard season.
6. Dallas Goedert
Despite failing to be recognized as a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro, Dallas Goedert has surely established himself as one of the most productive and consistent tight ends in the NFL over his four seasons with the Eagles.
He’s no longer competing with Ertz for targets, allowing Goedert to rack up over 800 receiving yards last season. As he settles in even more with quarterback Jalen Hurts, Goedert should have no problem matching or exceeding that type of production this season.
5. Kyle Pitts
After one season, we’ve already seen enough to list Kyle Pitts among the best tight ends in the NFL. He has already started to live up to the hype he had coming out of college while rewarding the Falcons for using a top-10 pick on him.
The fact that Pitts was the first rookie tight end in nearly two decades to be named to the Pro Bowl says all you need to know about him.
In fairness, there are some questions about Pitts only catching one touchdown last year and now having to adjust to a new quarterback after catching passes from former MVP Matt Ryan last year. Of course, there’s no doubting that Pitts has the skill set to be an elite tight end.
4. Darren Waller
While it took some time for Darren Waller to find himself, he’s now one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Even though he played in just 11 games last year, the Raiders can expect Waller to get back on track in 2022.
Between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Waller had 197 catches and over 2,300 receiving yards, not to mention 12 touchdowns. If he’s healthy in 2022 and can play a full season, there’s no reason why Waller can’t collect 90 catches and go over 1,000 yards receiving for the third time in four years, keeping his name among the elite tight ends in the game.
3. George Kittle
George Kittle‘s stock is a little down, as injuries have limited him to 22 games over the past two seasons, causing him to fall short of 1,000 receiving yards both years. But he’s only 28 and still capable of being the menace to opposing defenses that he was in 2018 and 2019.
Kittle is still one of the best tight ends in the NFL right now.
Granted, the arrival of Trey Lance could factor into Kittle’s production this year, he’s still a threat in the passing game and one of the most dangerous tight ends in the NFL.
2. Mark Andrews
After making his second Pro Bowl in three years and earning a First-Team All-Pro selection, there’s no question that Mark Andrews is now among the elite tight ends in the league. He made strides over the past few seasons, including a league-high (for tight ends) 10 touchdowns in 2019. But he led all tight ends in receptions, yards, and touchdowns last year, hauling in 107 passes for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns.
Andrew also led the Ravens in receiving, putting up those numbers even with Baltimore using a backup quarterback late in the season. The scary part is that Andrews is only 26 and should be entering his prime years, which means he could be even better in 2022.
1. Travis Kelce
He’s surely benefited to some extent by playing with Patrick Mahomes while the speed of Tyreek Hill has helped open up space for Kelce in the middle of the field. But we’re also talking about a guy who’s been to the Pro Bowl in seven straight seasons and been an All-Pro in six straight seasons.
In the last six years, he’s led all tight ends in receiving three times, including the year when he set the all-time record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season. Even though he’ll begin the 2022 season at age 32, there is no reason to think that Kelce will have any meaningful drop-off and won’t be the best tight end in the league once again.