The New England Patriots, after receiving basically no production out of their tight end group the last two seasons, performed an overhaul of the position this offseason.
And ESPN has each member of the new combo firmly situated in the top 10 of all NFL tight ends.
The Patriots signed the top two free agent tight ends on the market, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, to bolster their passing game. And in ESPN’s rankings of the league’s top tight ends, which came from a poll of more than 50 people, including NFL executives, tight ends, coaches and scouts, Henry was seventh and Smith was ninth.
“He is what he is — not great all around, but will wow you in the passing game with great hands,” an AFC exec said about Henry.
“You can use him a gazillion different ways,” an NFL coordinator said of Smith. “Blocking at all levels, jet sweeps, motion, and he’s improved as a receiver.”
While you can debate amongst yourselves about how fair of a shake both players are receiving in the ranking, no other team has multiple tight ends on the list. In other words, both are troublesome enough to cover that the Patriots, in theory, should be able to overwhelm teams by playing to the strengths of Henry and Smith.
For those curious, the top spot went to George Kittle. Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson and Dallas Goedert also cracked the list.