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NFL Executives: George Kittle is good but not the best TE

This should be a two person debate but it’s not

ESPN’s Mike Sando does a good job of reaching out to the top NFL executives and getting good information out of them. His usual big piece involves the QB tiers in the NFL. Recently, Sando asked the decision-makers in the NFL who the best tight end in the game was now that Rob Gronkowski has retired.

Travis Kelce gets my vote. After that, I’d go George Kittle. You can make an argument for Zach Ertz. There are a couple of guys that are talented but just can’t stay healthy, like Jordan Reed. Evan Engram is another guy that is up and coming. It’s an interesting debate to have. Many of these players are used so different that it’s tough to compare them apples to apples.

Here’s one general manager on Kittle:

“Kittle is good, but like many of the players who have been with Kyle Shanahan, he should feel blessed,” one general manager told Sando. “I mean, look at what Kyle did with the backs in Atlanta. Look at what he did with Matt Ryan.

This is a little odd to me. Shanahan does a great job of putting players in a position to succeed. Kittle also had 1,377 yards with backup QBs throwing to him. According to Football Outsiders metrics, Kittle was far and away the most valuable tight end. They adjust for opponent and garbage time as well. Tough to penalize a player that was that successful. Kittle also had almost 300 more yards after the catch than Kelce. That’s not something you “scheme.” That’s all Kittle.

Shanahan spoke on Kittle as well:

“To be a good tight end, you have to be a good blocker or at least you have to be a threat as a blocker,” Shanahan said. “Otherwise, they will put a nickelback on you, they will put corners on you. It is when you can beat all safeties and linebackers in man-to-man coverage, yet you are a good blocker so they cannot put a nickelback on the field. George had the best year ever statistically, and I think he can get a lot better.”

That’s more like it. They had the head coaches talk about their own players. I would’ve liked Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to give us his thoughts on Kittle.

Most of the executives had Kelce as the top choice because he’s the “toughest to guard.” What do you think, where would you rank Kittle?


Where does George Kittle rank in the TE rankings?

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