In the inordinate amount of “top” lists that have been presented this offseason (largely due to the lockout), the tight end position was bound to be touched sooner or later, and NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan took up the task. He created a “Top 25″ list similar to other position lists he has done, where he separates the players into groups of five, and assigns each a letter (Group A, Group B, etc.). The Patriots’ now first-year tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was drafted in the second round last year, made Kirwan’s list. However, he is grouped into Group E, the bottom group of the bunch.
Was Gronk snubbed being ranked in the bottom group?
In my opinion, I think he certainly was snubbed. Gronkowski has a phenomenal first year in the NFL, and he is likely on his way up. If we’re going by how players performed last season, Gronkowski belongs at least somewhere among the top 15. Gronk was tied for 18th in the league with Heath Miller and Brent Celek for receptions (42), was 16th in receiving yards (546), and tied for first in the NFL with Antonio Gates and Marcedes Lewis for touchdown receptions (10). Those are some pretty good names to be on par with.
Aside from just the numbers, Gronkowski is a very goo d blocker at his position. Gronk can stay in and pass block or help push the line in run blocking. I’ve also seen him pull, come across the line of scrimmage and take out a rushing defensive tackle. How many tight ends, who also match Gronkowski in receiving numbers, can block as well as he can? There aren’t many.
I know Gronk’s young, but he’s certainly shown he can play nearly as well as the elite tight ends in the NFL. I think people tend to get caught up on receiving numbers and not look at the TE position as a whole, but even focusing just on receiving, Gronkowski is among the best. Then you factor in his blocking ability, a key part of being an NFL TE, and you have yourself a special player. I would place him in Group C in Kirwan’s list.Who would I remove from Group C? It would be either the Eagles’ Brent Celek or the Vikings’ Visanthe Shiancoe, though I lean more towards Shiancoe. He’s had only one season where he’s made a major impact, and that was Bret Favre’s first year in Minnesota.