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Jermichael Finley Top-5 Tight End?

July 7, 2010

Charles Davis of the NFL Network recently ranked the top tight ends in the National Football League. His list consists of some pretty talented players.

1. Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons
2. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers
3. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
4. Dallas Clark – Indianapolis Colts
T-5. Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers
T-5. Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers

I see a lot of skill on that list, but I don’t necessarily agree with the order. At the very least we need some caveats for each player. Should a player’s upside be taken into consideration? How about value to their team? If we’re talking about value and upside, I think Finley jumps up that list and Gonzalez falls off the list completely:

1. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers
2. Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers
3. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
4. Dallas Clark – Indianapolis ColtS
5. Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers

I think Gonzalez is a heck of a tight end, but I think the Falcon’s offense functions pretty well without him. On the other hand, the Packer’s offense doesn’t have the same pizzazz without Finley in the lineup.

Another way to rank these players would be to look purely at regular season statistics. Using last season, the top-5 tight ends would look something like this:

1. Dallas Clark
2. Jason Witten
3. Tony Gonzalez
4. Antonio Gates
5. Vernon Davis

I realize that statistics can be twisted and used for a multitude of purposes; therefore, we can’t look solely at stats. In fact, by using statistics, Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com makes a pretty good case to rank Visanthe Shiancoe among the league’s top tight ends.

I have no issue with Davis’ top 4 TEs, but I do think an argument can be made for Shiancoe to be placed ahead of Davis and Finley. Shiancoe finished the 2009 season tied for 4th in the NFL with 11 TD receptions – which set a team record for most TDs in a single season by a Vikings TE – and he now has 18 TDs over the last 2 seasons, which is 1st among all TEs during that time and tied for 3rd-most among all players.

Wobschall furthers his case by citing Shiancoe’s intangibles:

In addition, Shiancoe is a true professional who is known for a tireless work ethic and extensive post-practice routine. He’s also never missed a game during his 7-year career, playing in 112 regular season games and 5 playoff contests.

I realize there is no perfect way to rank players. The variables are endless: Touchdowns, receptions, leadership, presence on the field, etc. So I turn the questions to you: Who are the top-5 tight ends in the league? What criteria should we use to rank players? Do rankings really matter?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2010 1:52 pm

    Has anyone seen the Pro Football Weekly season preview? They have Finley listed as the 10th best tight end. Aside from the easy ones (Gates, Gonzalez, Whitten, Clark) he is also behind Owen Daniels, Heath Miller, and Brent Celek. Now I’m not ready to name Finley as the best TE in the league, but I do think he could move ahead of all three of these players.

    Interesting note: Shiancoe is listed as #14.

    • July 12, 2010 7:53 am

      It seems that a lot of people who have not watched Finley play have no idea how good he really is. Unfortunately, defensive coordinators don’t fall into that group; they all know Finley’s talent and they will be scheming against him all year.

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