Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 6/3/12

The tight end position has been revolutionized. They used to be considered an extra offensive lineman in the past, used as an extra blocker. But today, tight ends are now considered to be a bigger version of wide receivers. They are just as athletic and as fast, but are a lot bigger and a lot stronger than the receivers. A having a tight end that can stretch the field has become an asset to teams as they are able to beat coverages and get down the field. So who makes the top five?

5. Tony Gonzalez
Arguably the best tight end to ever play the game, and future Hall of Famer, the Atlanta Falcons’ tight end could be considered the godfather of the tight ends. During his time at UCLA, he played both football and basketball. He took the athleticism from the court and was able to translate it over the NFL. He understood how to use his body to shield the ball from defenders, as well as his jumping ability to out leap defenders. While he is aging, he is still one of the best tight ends and a dangerous weapon.

4. Jason Witten
The 2012 season will be the 10th for the Dallas Cowboys tight end, but he is still one of the most productive players at his position and in the NFL. Witten is not as fast or as athletic as other tight ends, but he is a better blocker and route runner than many others. He is still the fourth best tight end in the league, and would only get better if he had a consistent quarterback play.

3. Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez is one of the new breed of tight ends. The New England Patriots tight end is more of a WR than a tight end actually. He is actually shorter than you would like for his position, but he has the speed and the ability to run routes like a WR. If a linebacker is covering him you can expect him to use his speed against them. And if there’s a cornerback on him he will use his strength to beat them. He is not the only Patriot on the list, and it doesn’t hurt that he has Tom Brady as his quarterback.

2. Jimmy Graham
The New Orleans Saints tight end has limited experience on the football field. He played for the University of Miami’s basketball team through his senior year. But he was granted permission to stay one more year to play on the Hurricanes football team. In 2011 we saw Jimmy Graham develop into the second best tight end in the league. He has a lot of trouble in the blocking game, and to his credit he hasn’t had much experience, and the Saints do not ask him to block much either. But what he lacks in blocking, he makes up with his athleticism and route running. If Jimmy has the ball in open space, he is always a threaten for a big gain. Because of his basketball background, Jimmy has tremendous leaping ability. At 6’7” 260 lbs., Graham is still a raw player with relatively little football experience.

1. Rob Gronkowski
It’s a good for the Gronker and for the New England Patriots that he is a better tight end than he is a dancer. The Patriots tight end joins fellow Patriot Aaron Hernandez on the list of top tight ends. Gronkowski, at 6’6” 265 lbs. is the best overall tight end in the league. He is a very good run blocker as he uses his agility and strength to drive the block. But what Rob is best known for is his ability to get down the field and leave defenders behind him. For that reason, he is often cover by CB’s but he is able to use his strength, along with speed to beat them. He needs to work on his hands as he does manage to drop some balls thrown his way. But he is still one of the more dangerous weapons in Tom Brady’s arsenal, which includes Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker.

Tight ends are now used to stretch the defense down the field, and teams need to have a defensive gameplan around these pass catching tight ends. A great tight end is just another weapon for a quarterback to use and exploit the defense with. These five players are, in my opinion, the best at the position. But you can also add in players like Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, or Vernon Davis.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Online Sport Freaks.

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