Over the last several decades, tight ends might be the position that has evolved the most. Back in the day, they were mostly viewed as extra offensive linemen. Today, tight ends are widely considered to be extra receivers used to overwhelm defenses and create mismatches. The best contemporary tight ends are offensive weapons who can produce in the box score with catches, yards, and touchdowns. Thus, these metrics will reign supreme in this look at the top two tight ends from each team across the NFC West. How do the Rams tight ends compare to the rest of the division going into 2019?
This is a continuation of our weekly series comparing the Rams position groups to the rest of the NFC West. To view our rankings of Quarterbacks go here!
Rams Position Groups Vs NFC West: Volume 2 – Tight Ends
4. Seattle Seahawks
The expected starter for the Seattle Seahawks this year will be Will Dissly, going into his second season at 23 years old. There is not much of a track record for him as he only played four games of his inaugural season in 2018 before succumbing to a knee injury that could carry into this year. Before the injury, Dissly gave Seahawks fans hope for the future of the position in Week 1 when he torched the Denver Broncos, catching three balls for 105 yards. Overall, Dissly is a wildcard with upside if he can stay on the field this season.
Behind Dissly will be Nick Vannett. Last year, he had 29 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Vannett is simply a decent backup-level player who seems to be underperforming as a third-round pick.
Overall, Seattle’s tight end group is a complete wildcard almost entirely dependent on the performance of Will Dissly.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s starting tight end will be Charles Clay, a sixth-round pick from 2011 who is going into his ninth season at 30 years old. Clay’s been hurt off and on (including a knee injury that knocked him out for the last chunk of 2018) but has been able to have 50 catches and 500 or more yards in five of his eight seasons in the NFL. Assuming he can stay healthy, Clay should be a decent anchor for the tight end group (and the offense as a whole) under Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Behind Clay is Ricky Seals-Jones — a 24-year-old, third-year recruit who was initially picked up as an undrafted free agent. Seals-Jones finished 2018 with 34 receptions for 343 yards and one touchdown — passable numbers for an expected backup next year.
Mr. Irrelevant this year was the athletic tight end out of UCLA, Caleb Wilson. Keep your eyes on him as he could surprise some people.
Overall, the Cardinals have a sneaky-decent lineup of tight ends if Charles Clay can stay healthy.
2. Los Angeles Rams
As of this writing, Tyler Higbee is the current starter of the Rams Tight Ends going into 2019. The fourth-round pick caught 24 balls for 292 yards and two touchdowns last year. This will be his fourth year in the league at 26 years old. One argument for his low production could be the fact that between running back Todd Gurley and receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks, there wasn’t enough passes left over for the tight ends. Nevertheless, one would like to see higher numbers from the starting tight end.
Hot on Higbee’s heels is Gerald Everett, going into his third year at 25 years old after initially being chosen as a second-round pick. Everett actually eclipsed Higbee’s totals in 2018, catching 33 balls for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Assuming the strong possibility that Everett could earn the starting role does indeed come to pass, the young tight end could be poised for a breakout season in 2019.
As a whole, the Rams’ tight end group could be poised to be for a great season this year. However, one of the more pressing questions is whether the strength of this position will actually be tested, considering the existence of the already established weapons at the other offensive positions.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Of course, if a team has a tight end that just broke the record for most yards in a single season by a tight end, that team will usually get the nod as having the best tight end group. George Kittle did that for his team, providing one of the only bright spots in an otherwise lost year. Also, at 1,377 yards, Kittle managed to earn more yards than Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Will Dissly, Charles Clay, and Ricky Seals-Jones combined in 2019. Needless to say, as a fifth-round pick, he has overperformed thus far. This season will be his third season at 25 years old. Kittle could possibly be widely seen as the next Rob Gronkowski if he is able to be in the neighborhood of 1,000 yards this season.
Behind Kittle is Garrett Celek, an undrafted free agent who has been with the team for seven seasons. Celek is poised to enter his eighth season in Kittle’s shadow with no real expectations. Celek’s best year was three years ago, posting 350 yards, 29 catches, and four touchdowns. Last year, Celek was almost a non-factor for the season, posting five receptions for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the end, Celek will likely be in Kittle’s shadow for as long as he is in San Francisco.
Breaking It Down
Overall, the division has a clear winner with the 49ers in a league of their own. Los Angeles and Arizona are more closely matched in the middle while Seattle falls decently behind them. Unlike some teams, every team in the NFC West has at least one reason to hope for a good season out of their tight end group this year. However, the level of realistic hope is what truly separates these teams.