An ESPN survey of NFL personnel and players claimed George Kittle, not Travis Kelce, is the best tight end.
ESPN is beginning with what they call the closest competition of them all.
A new anonymous survey conducted by ESPN of more than 50 NFL players and personnel (coaches, scouts, execs) came out on Tuesday and will continue to roll out over the next couple weeks. The specific questions pitched to everyone were simple: who are the best players right now at each position in the league?
Other positions will be posted in the days to come, but ESPN decided to start off their series by revealing the results of the vote at tight end. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the vote at tight end was not only incredibly close but another round of voting was needed because both of the two obvious choices for the top spot were tied: Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers. In the end, Kittle won out.
Kittle is known as the better blocker of the pair and Fowler notes that it’s here that Kittle was able to overcome Kelce for the top spot. Even then, Fowler admits that it’s really just about preference for each person surveyed. “In a race this close, it comes down to preferences: The pure-form receiver (Kelce) for the AFC champion or the do-it-all catalyst for the NFC champion (Kittle),” he writes.
Between Kelce and Kittle, 49 of the first-place votes were given out and for good reason. Both players have been named to multiple Pro Bowls, although Kelce holds a substantial lead here but that’s a given due to his much-longer tenure in the NFL as a player. Kittle has made the last two Pro Bowls which Kelce has made five consecutive Pro Bowl rosters. In 2018, Kelce was the first-team All-Pro while Kittle was secnod-team. In 2019, they swapped positions.
The only other player to receive a first-place vote was Rob Gronkowski, who actually hasn’t played since an injury-riddled 2018 season. However, he was known as the best tight end for most of the last decade in the NFL, which makes his return intriguing enough for at least one voter to believe in him. Gronk received one first place vote and one second place vote overall, which is why both Kelce and Kittle were each ranked as low as third overall for one anonymous voter apiece.
While the pair might be jostling at the top for ultimate supremacy, depending on who you ask, what is not up for debate is that Kelce and Kittle are heads above anyone else at the position. Unless Zach Ertz is able to make a leap, Gronk is able to prove he’s as productive as ever, or T.J. Hockenson is able to turn into the mismatch he was drafted to be, both Kittle and Kelce will likely rule this list for the foreseeable future.