NFL News & Analysis

Ranking the 15 best tight ends from the 2022 NFL regular season

Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs for a touchdown during the first half against the Los Angeles Rams at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

• Kelce, Kittle, Andrews remain top three: The unquestioned trio at the top of the tight end position remains in place after each had a strong 2022 season.

• Dallas Goedert comes in at No. 4: He finished 2022 ranked third at the position with an 83.5 receiving grade, helping propel the Eagles' offense to new heights in 2022.

• Njoku, Oliver among TEs who excelled as blockers: Tight ends are typically recognized solely for their pass-catching production, but this list also rewards those who made their mark as blockers in 2022.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

The tight end position requires a unique and diverse skill set that, from the outside looking in, seems damn near impossible to master. At the NFL level, excelling as a tight end means catching passes, blocking in the run game — oftentimes at the point of attack, against bigger players — and contributing in pass protection. Unless a player is truly elite in one of those three areas, they need to be able to at least hold their weight in all facets.

That brings us to the tight end play of 2022, a season during which Travis Kelce firmly entered the GOAT conversation. Behind him, we saw George Kittle continue his overall excellent play, Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert cause headaches for opposing secondaries and a slew of other players step up in what has become a top-heavy position group.

Here we’ll look at, in my opinion, the top 15 tight ends from the 2022 NFL season.

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

  • Overall Grade: 91.3
  • Snap count: 1,069

In the conversation for the greatest of all time at his position, Kelce ran away as the top tight end this past season. With a 91.6 receiving grade, he was the only tight end in 2022 to cross the 90.0 threshold. And he was one of just three tight ends to eclipse the 80.0 mark.

Kelce’s receiving stats in comparison to his peers last year are mind-blowing:

  • Evan Engram ranked third among tight ends with 88 catches; Kelce had 92 catches that resulted in either a first down or a touchdown.
  • Six tight ends recorded at least 800 receiving yards in 2022; Kelce had 802 yards after the catch.
  • Twenty-nine tight ends were targeted at least 50 times in 2022; Kelce led the group with an average of 2.24 yards per route run and he was the only tight end to surpass 2.0 yards per route run.
  • Kelce was one of seven tight ends to be targeted on at least 20% of their receiving snaps. His 122.0 passer rating when targeted led that group by far, with T.J. Hockenson’s 94.9 mark coming in second.

Kelce was in his own stratosphere last season as a pass-catching tight end, and on top of that, he also finished the year ranked 15th at the position with a 61.2 run-blocking grade. TE1, no questions asked.

2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

  • Overall Grade: 84.7
  • Snap Count: 1,022

Kittle once again showed the all-around skill set we’ve become so accustomed to seeing from him. He finished 2022 ranked second among tight ends with an 87.8 receiving grade, and he also earned a third-ranked 69.5 run-blocking grade at the position. He paired those marks with a position-leading 137.1 passer rating when targeted and tied for second with 28 explosive catches (a catch that results in a 15-plus-yard gain).

As a run blocker, Kittle finished the year tied for third among tight ends with a 10.9% positive run-block rate, while his 431 run-blocking snaps were the second most at the position.

3. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

  • Overall Grade: 80.7
  • Snap Count: 847

With a 79.4 receiving grade to go with a 70.1 run-blocking grade, Andrews was the only tight end last season to eclipse the 70.0 threshold in both facets. He ranked second at the position with an average of 1.92 yards per route run, and his 28 explosive plays tied with George Kittle for the second most. Out of the 39 tight ends with 250-plus run-blocking snaps in 2022, Andrews ranked first with just a 6.3% negative play rate.

4. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Overall Grade: 78.2
  • Snap Count: 935

All Goedert has done since being drafted in 2018 is become one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. He finished 2022 ranked third at the position with an 83.5 receiving grade, and along with Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and Darren Waller, he’s one of just five tight ends to have at least 1,000 receiving snaps to go with a 90.0-plus receiving grade over the past five seasons.

Goedert ranked third among tight ends in 2022 with a 121.7 passer rating when targeted and fourth with 1.76 yards per route run. To top it all off, he was one of four tight ends who caught at least 60% of their contested targets (minimum 10 such targets).

5. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Overall Grade: 75.5
  • Snap Count: 743

The similarities between Freiermuth and the player just ahead of him on this list are uncanny: Dallas Goedert is listed at 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds and Freiermuth is 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds; both were second-round picks to Pennsylvania teams; and like Goedert, Freiermuth has now posted receiving grades north of 70.0 in each of his first two professional seasons.

Freiermuth's 78.3 receiving grade in 2022 ranked sixth at the position, his average of 1.62 yards per route run ranked seventh, his 37 catches going for either a first down or touchdown ranked seventh and his 11 forced missed tackles ranked fifth.

6. T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

  • Overall Grade: 73.2
  • Snap Count: 1,036

Hockenson finished the year with a 76.4 receiving grade, good for eighth among tight ends. That mark was buoyed by an average of 1.66 yards per route run and 20 explosive plays, both of which placed fifth.

The former top-10 pick's 141 targets in 2022 were the second most at the position — trailing only Travis Kelce — and he joined Kelce as the only tight ends to hit the 100-catch mark along with the 1,000-receiving-yard mark. The Lion-turned-Viking caught 57.1% of his contested targets, the seventh-best rate at the position, and his 20 contested catches were eight more than any other tight end.

7. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

  • Overall Grade: 73.7
  • Snap Count: 816

2022 was a career year for Njoku, who set new highs with a 73.7 overall grade and a 78.7 receiving grade. He saw the second-highest snap total of his career and continued to be a solid blocker when asked to occasionally pass protect. Njoku ranked ninth among tight ends with an average of 1.53 yards per route run, with his 14 explosive plays tying for the ninth most and his 36 catches resulting in either a first down or a touchdown the eighth most.

Njoku isn’t asked to pass block much (44 snaps in 2022, 25th most among tight ends), but he also finished the season with a 76.3 pass-blocking grade, his third consecutive year of surpassing 70.0 after earning sub-60.0 marks in each of his first three seasons. Thirty-six tight ends have tallied at least 100 pass-blocking snaps over the past three seasons, and Njoku ranks first among them with a 77.9 pass-blocking grade. Over that stretch, he’s pass-blocked 136 times and has allowed a sack or quarterback knockdown just once.

8. Josh Oliver, Baltimore Ravens

  • Overall Grade: 72.3
  • Snap Count: 561

Of every player on this list, Oliver ran the fewest routes this past season by far. The Ravens tight end finished with just 176 routes — well behind Austin Hooper, who ran the second-fewest routes among these 15 players, with 338. Oliver was targeted just 25 times, recording 16 catches for two touchdowns and seven first downs. However, his contributions as a receiver aren't what boost him to No. 8.

Oliver was PFF's highest-graded run-blocking tight end in 2022. His 74.0 run-blocking mark made him one of just two tight ends to surpass 70.0, and just 11 NFL tight ends exceeded a 60.0 run-blocking grade on at least 300 run-blocking snaps. Oliver’s 15.3% positive run-block rate paced the rest of the position by a landslide, with George Kittle’s 10.9% ranking second. 

9. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers

  • Overall Grade: 70.6
  • Snap Count: 708

Everett, in his first season with the Chargers, ranked ninth among tight ends with a 73.4 receiving grade. He routinely showed off the open-field elusiveness that vaulted him up into the second round out of South Alabama back in 2017. He ranked second at the position with 18 forced missed tackles, and his average of 6.3 yards after the catch per reception ranked fifth. Everett also placed seventh among tight ends with 17 explosive plays and finished the year tied for ninth with 34 combined first downs and touchdowns.

10. Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

  • Overall Grade: 68.3
  • Snap Count: 938

Schultz finished the year ranked 15th among tight ends with a 67.8 receiving grade while finishing fifth with a 65.9 run-blocking grade. He certainly produced as a pass catcher, with his 34 combined touchdowns and first downs ranking ninth and his average of 1.42 yards per route run coming in at 10th, but his 7.6% drop rate placed third highest at the position.

Of the 23 tight ends to run block at least 300 times last season, Schultz ranked fourth best with an 8.7% positive run-block rate and fifth best with a 13.2% negative run-block rate.

11. Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Overall Grade: 67.6
  • Snap Count: 996

Engram had the volume stats in 2022, ranking fourth among tight ends with 123 targets, third with 88 catches and fifth with 905 receiving yards. But despite those numbers, he finished the season with a 13th-ranked 68.3 receiving grade.

When looking at his rate numbers, things begin to line up a bit more: Engram ranked 11th with an average of 1.41 yards per route run, 22nd out of 29 qualifying tight ends with a 33.3% contested catch rate and eighth worst with 52.3% of his catches not resulting in either a first down or a touchdown. If Engram can improve his rates on a similar workload in 2023, look for him to improve upon his receiving grade.

Engram also had his best season so far as a run blocker. He passed the 60.0 threshold (60.1) for just the second time in his career (60.6 in 2018), and he did so on more than twice as many run-blocking snaps (321 in 2022 versus 123 in 2018).

12. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

  • Overall Grade: 67.6
  • Snap Count: 970

Kmet struggled to get things going as a receiver in Chicago’s anemic passing offense, as he was targeted on just 15.9% of his 452 routes — the fifth-lowest rate among 20 tight ends who ran at least 400 routes. And of his 72 targets, only 76.4% were deemed catchable — the seventh-lowest rate among that group. When Kmet did get the ball in his hands, though, he produced. His average of 5.9 yards after the catch ranked sixth and his 98.4 passer rating when targeted ranked ninth. There’s just no way to view Kmet’s receiving output without acknowledging Chicago’s passing offense in totality.

Kmet did, however, hold his own as a run blocker this past season. His 457 run-blocking snaps were the most by any tight end in 2022, and his 65.1 run-blocking grade ranked sixth. Kmet’s tape isn’t chock-full of dominant blocks — his 6.8% positive run-block rate ranked 12th — but he excelled at doing what was expected of him, as his 12.7% negative run-block rate ranked fourth best.

13. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

  • Overall Grade: 66.4
  • Snap Count: 944

Knox finished the year ranked 22nd among tight ends with a 64.3 receiving grade. His average of 1.06 yards per route run placed only 25th, and his 7.6% drop rate was tied for the third highest. Knox did, however, come in at 14th with 54.4% of his catches resulting in either a first down or a touchdown, and he also fared well as a blocker.

The former third-round pick ranked fourth with a 66.5 run-blocking grade, and his 8.4% positive run-block rate placed fifth. Out of the 30 tight ends who stayed in to pass protect at least 40 times in 2022, Knox earned a 10th-place ranking with a 65.6 pass-blocking grade after surrendering just two pressures on 46 pass-block reps.

14. Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans

  • Overall Grade: 68.8
  • Snap Count: 525

Like Cole Kmet, Hooper falls into the group of pass catchers who were limited by their offense. Despite making just 43 catches on a mere 59 targets, Hooper finished the season ranked ninth among tight ends with a 74.6 receiving grade, as he made the most of his targets. He ranked third by converting 65.1% of his catches into either a first down or a touchdown, and his 2.2% drop rate was the third-lowest mark at the position.

Although 25.4% of Hooper's targets were contested in 2022, the highest rate among tight ends, he managed to come down with 60% of them — tied for the third-best rate at the position. Hooper was a poor blocker both in the run game and on a very limited sample size in pass protection, but he makes this list for taking advantage of his limited pass-catching opportunities in the Titans' offense.

15. Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders

  • Overall Grade: 61.1
  • Snap Count: 745

Moreau endured a miserable season as a run blocker, with his 40.8 run-blocking grade placing dead last out of 23 tight ends who had at least 300 run-blocking snaps in 2022. His 2.8% positive run-block rate ranked last, and his 22.1% negative run-block rate was the second worst among his peers.

That being said, he finished last season ranked 12th at the position with a 69.7 receiving grade and was the only tight end to log at least 40 pass-blocking snaps (63) and not surrender a single pressure. Moreau ranked first by converting 70.6% of his catches into either a first down or a touchdown, and 35.3% of his catches were explosive plays that went for at least 15 yards, the third-best rate among tight ends in 2022.


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