Football is a complex sport with various positions, each playing an important role in the team’s success.
One such position is the tight end, often referred to as the “unsung hero” of the offense.
While the quarterback and wide receivers often steal the spotlight, the tight end plays a vital role in both the passing and running game.
Here we look at the responsibilities and duties of a tight end, their importance to the team, and how they contribute to the overall strategy of the game.
The Role of the Tight End
The tight end is a hybrid position that combines the skills of a lineman and a receiver.
This versatility makes them a valuable asset to the team, as they can contribute to both the passing and running game.
One of the primary responsibilities of a tight end is blocking.
They are often tasked with blocking defensive linemen, linebackers, or even defensive backs to create running lanes for the ball carrier.
Their size and strength make them effective blockers, as they can use their body to shield defenders and create space for the running back.
When blocking, tight ends must have excellent technique and footwork.
They need to engage with the defender quickly and maintain leverage to control their opponent.
Additionally, they must be able to read the defense and adjust their blocking assignment accordingly.
For example, if the defense is blitzing, the tight end may need to switch their blocking assignment to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
While blocking is a significant part of a tight end’s role, they are also expected to be a reliable target in the passing game.
Tight ends are often used as safety valves for the quarterback, providing a short to intermediate option when the wide receivers are covered downfield.
Tight ends have the size and athleticism to create mismatches against smaller defensive backs or slower linebackers.
They can use their size to shield defenders and make contested catches.
Additionally, their ability to run precise routes and find open spaces in the defense makes them a valuable asset in the passing game.
Key Skills and Attributes
To excel as a tight end, players must possess a combination of physical attributes and skills.
Here are some key skills and attributes that make a successful tight end:
- Size and Strength: Tight ends are typically larger and stronger than wide receivers, allowing them to overpower defenders when blocking and make contested catches.
- Agility and Speed: Despite their size, tight ends need to be agile and have good speed to create separation from defenders and run routes effectively.
- Blocking Technique: Tight ends must have excellent blocking technique, including footwork, hand placement, and leverage, to effectively block defenders.
- Route Running: The ability to run precise routes and find open spaces in the defense is crucial for a tight end to be an effective receiving threat.
- Hands: Tight ends need to have reliable hands to make catches in traffic and secure the ball after contact.
Examples of Impactful Tight Ends
Throughout the history of football, there have been several tight ends who have made a significant impact on the game.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Rob Gronkowski, often referred to as “Gronk,” is widely regarded as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history.
Standing at 6’6″ and weighing 265 pounds, Gronkowski possesses a rare combination of size, strength, and athleticism.
He played the majority of his career with the New England Patriots (and later with the Tampa Bay Bucs), where he became a favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady.
Gronkowski’s impact on the game was felt both as a blocker and a receiver.
He was a dominant force in the running game, often paving the way for running backs with his powerful blocking.
In the passing game, Gronkowski’s size and athleticism made him nearly unstoppable. He consistently outmuscled defenders and made acrobatic catches in traffic.
Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs great, established himself as one of the premier tight ends in the NFL.
Known for his exceptional route running and reliable hands, Kelce became a favorite target of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Kelce’s ability to find open spaces in the defense and make contested catches has made him a nightmare for opposing defenses.
He consistently ranks among the league leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns for tight ends.
Additionally, Kelce’s blocking skills have contributed to the Chiefs’ success in the running game.
Below we have some drills from George Kittle (only viewable on YouTube due to copyright claims):
George Kittle’s Tight End Drills for Footwork, Blocking, Catching & YAC!
Average Height and Weight of NFL Tight Ends
The average height and weight of NFL tight ends can vary, as players at this position come in various sizes and have different skill sets.
However, we can provide a rough estimate based on historical information and trends.
Height: NFL tight ends generally have a height range of 6 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 6 inches (1.91 to 1.98 meters). However, there have been successful tight ends both shorter and taller than this range. Some tight ends are even taller, reaching heights of 6 feet 7 inches or more.
Weight: The average weight of NFL tight ends typically falls between 240 and 260 pounds (109 to 118 kilograms). However, it’s worth noting that there are tight ends who weigh more or less than this range.
Some tight ends are more focused on blocking and may have a heavier build, while others prioritize speed and agility, resulting in a lighter weight.
The role of a tight end in the NFL can vary depending on the team’s offensive scheme.
Some tight ends are known for their blocking abilities, while others are more renowned for their receiving skills.
This can lead to variations in the preferred size and weight of tight ends across the league.
It’s important to remember that these figures represent general averages, and there can be significant variation among individual players.
Additionally, the game and player trends can evolve over time, potentially impacting the average height and weight of NFL tight ends.
How to Play Tight End Like An NFL Player
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the role of a tight end in football?
The role of a tight end in football is to contribute to both the passing and running game.
They are responsible for blocking defenders to create running lanes for the ball carrier and also serve as receiving targets for the quarterback.
2. How does a tight end contribute to the running game?
Tight ends contribute to the running game by blocking defensive linemen, linebackers, or defensive backs.
Their size and strength make them effective blockers, as they can create running lanes for the ball carrier.
3. What are the key skills required to be a successful tight end?
Successful tight ends need to have a combination of size, strength, agility, speed, blocking technique, route running ability, and reliable hands.
4. Can tight ends catch passes like wide receivers?
Yes, tight ends can catch passes like wide receivers.
They often serve as safety valves for the quarterback and can create mismatches against smaller defensive backs or slower linebackers.
5. Who are some of the greatest tight ends in NFL history?
Some of the greatest tight ends in NFL history include Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe, and Antonio Gates.
6. How do tight ends create mismatches against defenders?
Tight ends create mismatches against defenders due to their size, athleticism, and ability to run precise routes.
They can use their size to shield defenders and make contested catches.
7. Are tight ends involved in special teams?
While tight ends are primarily involved in the offense, they can also contribute to special teams.
They may be used as blockers on kickoffs or punts or even as kick returners in certain situations.
8. Can a tight end play other positions on the field?
While it is rare, tight ends can sometimes play other positions on the field.
In certain offensive formations, they may line up as fullbacks or H-backs, providing additional blocking or receiving options.
9. How do tight ends adjust their blocking assignments?
Tight ends need to read the defense and adjust their blocking assignments accordingly.
If the defense is blitzing, they may need to switch their blocking assignment to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
10. What is the average size of a tight end?
The average size of a tight end varies, but they are typically larger than wide receivers and smaller than offensive linemen.
They often range from 6’3″ to 6’6″ in height and weigh between 240 to 270 pounds.
11. Can tight ends be used as decoys in the passing game?
Yes, tight ends can be used as decoys in the passing game.
By running routes that draw defenders away from other receiving options, they can create opportunities for their teammates to get open.
12. How do tight ends contribute to red zone offense?
Tight ends are valuable assets in the red zone due to their size and ability to make contested catches.
They can outmuscle defenders and provide a reliable target for the quarterback in tight spaces.
13. Are there any female tight ends in professional football?
While it is rare, there have been instances of female players playing as tight ends in professional football leagues.
For example, Mo’ne Davis played as a tight end for the Atlanta Legends in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football league.
14. Can tight ends be used as primary receiving options?
Yes, tight ends can be used as primary receiving options in certain offensive schemes.
Their size, athleticism, and ability to create mismatches make them viable options for quarterbacks to target.
15. How do tight ends contribute to the team’s overall strategy?
Tight ends contribute to the team’s overall strategy by providing versatility on offense.
Their ability to both block and catch passes allows coaches to create diverse game plans and keep the defense guessing.
The tight end position in football is a unique and versatile role that requires a combination of blocking skills, receiving ability, and football intelligence.
They play a crucial role in both the passing and running game, contributing to the team’s overall strategy.
Successful tight ends possess a range of physical attributes and skills, including size, strength, agility, speed, blocking technique, route running ability, and reliable hands.
By understanding the responsibilities and duties of a tight end, one can appreciate their importance to the team and their impact on the game.