Rob Gronkowski is the Best TE in the GameGene Clemons, FBGP Analyst __________________________
Wikipedia defines the position this way;
The Tight End (TE) is a position in American football, Arena football, and formerly Canadian football, on the offense. The tight end is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be effective blockers. On the other hand, they are eligible receivers adept enough to warrant a defense’s attention when running pass patterns.
It is truly the most unique position in sports and the only position in football that lines up wide, in the slot, attached to the line, on the wing, in the backfield, go in motion, run, catch or block. The flexibility of the TE has left the full back position damn near extinct and many offenses are opting for multiple TE sets instead of multiple back or receiver sets.
This offense obsessed society has begun to deem any tight end that catches a lot of passes a top tight end but they set aside the other aspects of the position. A pass-catching tight end with no ability to block inline, is simply a big receiver. On the opposite side, there are tight ends that are used primarily in the running game. They are offensive linemen with an eligible number but their value is limited.
These reasons are why New England is the location of the best tight end in football, GRONK! An earlier First and Forever column talked about the death of the tight end because of Jimmy Graham’s contract and his worth being devalued based on his position. The truth is that as a real tight end, Graham falls very short of what you want but Rob Gronkowski has everything you want in a real tight end.
Gronkowski does not need a special designation. He’s not a “pass-catching” or a “run-blocking” he does both of them equally well. As a pass receiver he is a matchup nightmare. At 6’6” and 265 pounds, Gronk is too big for any cornerback and safety. He either boxes them out like a power forward going for a rebound, or jumps over them. Once he has the ball, his 5’8”-6’ defenders bounce off him like beach balls in a crowd full of people. His speed allows him to separate from linebackers and stretch the middle of the field. Even after two seasons of injuries Gronk still possesses the athleticism to make any offensive coordinator drool over how to best utilize him.
He is still not a finished product. At age 25 he still has many years of peak performance and as he continues to learn how to be a better tight end, he will continue to add the mental side of the game to an overpowering physical nature. Many outsiders believe that Gronk is somehow not intelligent because of his crazy lifestyle; however, it has been proven that New England’s offense is not easy to learn or execute as a receiver but Gronk has thrived. Over the years many receivers have flamed out trying to learn the “Patriot Way”, yet he has not.
Gronkowski gives you the ability to be multiple in your offensive game-planning. When Jimmy Graham comes into a game, most realize that there’s a better than average chance that the play is going to be a pass because Graham doesn’t give you much in the run game. Because Gronkowski is a legitimate blocker, the play-action game becomes much more effective. Run and pass plays can be run out of the same formations which allows an offense to better disguise their play-calling.
Gronkowski is such a unique weapon in today’s NFL that there is not another comparable tight end to him today. Last season when people asked whether or not it was time to give up on Gronk, the Pats never flinched. They were committed to nursing him back to health and getting him back on the field. The results are evident. 40 receptions for 558 yards and seven touchdowns. But what makes it even more impressive is that his snaps were severely limited at the beginning of the season and yet he is still on pace to have an All-Pro season.
If he stays healthy, he will add extra years to Tom Brady’s career. That’s what a real tight end does.