The tight end position is one of the most difficult in regard to transitioning from the college game to the NFL level. Not only do tight ends need to learn complex route schemes, but they are often asked to understand blocking in both the run and passing games. Considering all the variables, it’s extremely rare to see any rookie tight end break out.
Some tight ends — such as George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz — broke out in their second seasons, but others needed even more time before they became useful fantasy assets. Austin Hooper, Darren Waller and Tyler Higbee all broke out in their third or fourth seasons. In fantasy football drafts, the elite tight ends come with high draft capital, and there are only so many of them. If you miss out at the beginning of your draft, it’s crucial that you snag one or two of these late-round targets who have shown the upside to suggest they can make the leap.
In this series of articles, I’m looking at the breakout potential at the tight end position with a focus on players entering their second, third and fourth seasons. I'll take a look at their current situations to see if they have a clear path to targets and then analyze what they've done in the NFL to this point to determine whether they've shown the upside to break out in 2020.
Out of Jason Witten’s Shadow
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin is entering his fourth season in the NFL after two encouraging seasons in a part-time role. After competing for the starting tight end role in 2018 and 2019 — first against Geoff Swaim after Jason Witten‘s retirement, then against Witten upon his return — the gig is officially his thanks to the three-year $24.25 million contract extension he signed this offseason.
Even in part-time duty, Swaim demonstrated efficiency as a receiver and year-to-year improvement suggesting a higher ceiling for the former undrafted free agent.
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