As the 2017 season quickly approaches, we're looking at the position-by-position rankings for each NFL Division. Today we head to the AFC South to look at the tight ends.
The division features one of the premier tight ends in the league, a veteran not performing after free agnecy found him in a new home, and a few up-and-comers who are figuring things out a few years into their careers.
Here's the top 5 tight ends in the AFC South. Stats refer to the 2016 season.
No. 5: Mychal Rivera — Jacksonville
18 rec., 192 yards, 1 TD
Mychal Rivera has flashed at times, notably putting together a 58 catch, 534 yard, four touchdown season in 2014 for Oakland. He's yet to return to that form, and heads to a new home this year in Jacksonville where he'll pair with Mercedes Lewis at the position.
No. 4: Ryan Griffin — Houston
50 rec., 442 yards, 2 TD
The first of two Texans on this list, Griffin was fourth in receptions and yards and tied for third in receiving touchdowns for the Texans last year. He nearly doubled all of his production from the three seasons prior.
No. 3: C.J. Fiedorowicz — Houston
54 rec., 559 yards, 4 TD
The second part of Houston's two-tight end attack, C.J. Fiedorowicz found his way in his third season in the league. He was targeted 89 times last season — third most on the team besides DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller — and turned 30 of his 54 catches into first downs.
The Texans are big fans of the two-tight end attack — they've used it for years — so you can expect Fiedorowicz and Griffin to be heavily utilized again this fall.
No. 2: Jack Doyle — Indianapolis
59 rec., 584 yards, 5 TD
Doyle isn't a flashy name, but he gets the job done for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. He had a breakout 2016 after Indianapolis saw Coby Fleener leave and he should play an even bigger role in 2017 after the Colts parted ways with Dwayne Allen.
Doyle registered career highs in all receiving categories last year, and with Luck on his side there's no doubting what he can do this fall.
No. 1: Delanie Walker — Tennesee
65 rec., 800 yards, 7 TD
Delanie Walker is not only the best tight end in the AFC South, he's potentially one of the two or three best receiving tight ends in the entire NFL. At 6-foot-2, 248-pounds he's a big target, but he still moves well in the open field. He creates mismatches all over the defense — too fast for a linebacker to guard, too big for a defensive back to handle.
Walker was sputtering in mediocrity while at San Francisco from 2006-2012, but immediately burst onto the scene in his new home in Tennessee. After a 571-yard, 6-touchdown season in 2013, Walker has not failed to dip below 800 receiving yards in three straight seasons, and has caught 13 touchdowns in the past two seasons combined.
It took a move to Tennessee to jump start his career, but Walker is flourishing alongside Marcus Mariota with the Titans.