If you are looking to learn what a tight end is or have a bunch of questions about this interesting position, you have come to the right article.
A tight end is an offensive position in the American football. They are positioned at the end of the line next to the offensive tackle. Depending on the team’s formation, some teams may have tight ends while other teams may choose to have running backs or a fullback instead. So don’t be surprised if you happen to see no tight ends in one of the upcoming games.
In recent years, teams have increasingly shifted to passing plays as opposed to running plays. This led to the role of tight ends becoming ever more important. A tight end is effectively a hybrid of an offensive lineman and a wide receiver.
Tight ends have three main roles:
A tight end that has been deployed primarily for blocking will have bigger built since the goal is to protect the quarterback against the sack. He can also assist running backs who are advancing the ball by moving out to the field and block any potential defenders.
For tight ends who are positioned behind the line (h-back), they will be out in the field to catch short range passes from the quarterback. Then, they advance the ball if the situation is right. Usually, quarterbacks would prefer to make forward passes to wide receivers because of the high yard points, but such scenarios don’t come often.
Quarterbacks may be pressured to make other plays that require tight ends to fill the immediate role of receivers by making himself open for passing routes and outrun defenders when he gets the pass.
Although running plays have declined in recent years in the NFL, quarterbacks may decide to handoff or make short range passses to tight ends for a run, based on his reads on defenders. To be effective, tight ends must have the speed and agility to outrun defenders – and when possible, overpower them through brute force to gain yard points.
Why is it Called Tight End?
“Tight end” received its name as players are lined up at the end of the offensive line next to the offensive tackle. Typically, they are stationed there to keep the defensive gap tight. Hence, it gained the name tight end.
Can Tight Ends Run the Ball?
No, tight ends are not eligible to carry the ball due to the ‘4 backs and 7 lines’ rule. However, if he is lined up behind the line of scrimmage, he would be allowed to carry and run the ball. He would be known as the h-back in this case.
Is Tight End a Skill Position?
In American Football, the term ‘skill position’ refers to players who mostly carry the ball and are responsible for scoring points. Another distinction is the size and speed. Skill positions tend to be faster, lighter and smaller than non-skill positions. This includes the quarterback, running back/ fullback, wide receivers, and tight ends (h-back). Offensive line players like center, tackles, and guards are not considered as skill positions.
Do Tight Ends Have to be Fast?
If the tight end is put on the team by the coach solely for the purpose of blocking, he doesn’t have to be fast. Instead, he has to be an effective lead blocker. Therefore, one has to have the appropriate size, which is a trade-off for speed.
However, if the tight end’s main role is to catch short passes and run the ball, coaches will generally prefer a faster tight end.
Who is the Best Tight End of All Time?
Based on the following stats, it is clear that Tony Gonzalez is the best tight end of all time – with 1,325 catches, 15,127 yards, and 111 touchdowns in 270 games in the period of 1997 to 2013.
|Name||Team||No. of Games||Catches||Yards||Touchdowns|
|Tony Gonzalez||Kansas City 1997-2008; Atlanta 2009-13||270||1,325||15,127||111|
|Antonio Gates||San Diego 2003-18||236||955||11,841||116|
|Rob Gronkowski||New England 2010-18||115||521||7,861||79|
|Shannon Sharpe||Denver 1990-99, 2002-03; Baltimore 2000-01||204||815||10,060||62|
|Kellen Winslow||San Diego 1979-87||109||541||6,741||45|
|Ozzie Newsome||Cleveland 1978-90||198||662||7,980||47|
|Mike Ditka||Chicago 1961-66; Philadelphia 1967-68; Dallas 1969-72||158||427||5812||43|
|John Mackey||Baltimore Colts 1963-71; San Diego 1972||139||331||5236||38|
|Jason Witten||Dallas 2003-17||239||1215||12977||72|
|Dave Casper||Oakland 1974-80, ’84, Houston Oilers 1981-83; Minnesota 1983||147||378||5216||52|
|Greg Olsen||Chicago Bears 2007-10, Carolina Panthers 2011-19, Seattle Seahawks 2020||174||718||8444||59|
|Jackie Smith||St. Louis Cardinals 1963-77; Dallas 1978||210||480||7918||40|
|Jimmy Graham||New Orleans 2010-14; Seattle 2015-17, Green Bay 2018-present||137||649||7883||74|
|Jerry Smith||Washington 1965-77||168||421||5496||60|
|Ben Coates||New England 1991-99; Baltimore Ravens 2000||158||499||5555||50|
|Charlie Sanders||Detroit 1968-77||128||336||4817||31|
|Todd Christensen||New York Giants 1979; Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1979-88||137||461||5872||41|
|Keith Jackso||Philadelphia 1988-91; Miami 1992-94; Green Bay 1995-96||129||441||5283||49|
|Dallas Clark||Indianapolis Colts 2003-11; Tampa Bay 2012; Baltimore 2013||143||505||5665||53|
|Heath Miller||Pittsburgh 2005-15||168||592||6569||45|
|Vernon Davis||San Francisco 2006-15; Denver 2015; Washington 2016-19||194||583||7562||63|
|Riley Odoms||Denver 1972-8||153||396||5755||41|
|Travis Kelce||Kansas City Chiefs 2013-Present||96||507||6465||37|
|Jay Novacek||St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals 1985-89; Dallas 1990-95||158||422||4630||30|
|Zach Ertz||Philadelphia Eagles 2013-Present||106||525||5743||35|
Now you have learnt that tight end is a hybrid of receivers and offensive lineman. Hence they not only have to be strong to be able to block defenders, but they also have to be fast and able to catch passes. So tell us what do you think about this role? Let us know in the comment section below.
 “What is a ‘skilled position’ in football? – Quora.” 15 Jun. 2019, https://www.quora.com/What-is-a-skilled-position-in-football. Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.
 “25 Greatest Tight Ends in NFL History – Athlon Sports.” 22 Apr. 2020, https://athlonsports.com/nfl/25-greatest-tight-ends-nfl-history. Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.