The role of an NFL tight end is one of the more complicated in any offense. They are responsible for blocking like a lineman and also run patterns and catch passes like a wide receiver. This dual responsibility usually results in the position requiring two years of experience before realizing their full potential. And this season welcomes an astounding six starting tight ends from that class of 2018.
Mark Andrews (Baltimore Ravens) – He wasn’t even the first tight end drafted by his team that year, but Andrews emerged as a starter. He caught 64 passes for 852 yards and ten touchdowns during the Raven’s perch atop the regular-season standings. His ten receiving scores tied for second-most in the league last season.
Hayden Hurst (Atlanta Falcons) – He was the first-round pick for the Ravens in 2018 but he fell behind Andrews and was just traded to the Falcons to replace Austin Hooper. He gets to resume his career on a team that ranked Top-5 in receptions and yards by their starting tight end last year.
Dallas Goedert (Philadelphia Eagles) – Goedert was drafted by a team that already had an elite starting tight end, but he’s been far more than just a depth player. The Eagles lead the league with 155 catches for 1,610 yards by their tight ends last year. His 607 yards ranked No. 10 in the position for 2019.
Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins) – He notched 51 catches for 570 yards last season and can mature along with his new rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Gesicki was the second tight end drafted in 2018 and is in a great situation for another leap in production. Rookie quarterbacks often love their tight ends and the 6’6″ product from Penn State offers a huge target closest to the pocket.
Ian Thomas (Carolina Panthers) – After two seasons with Greg Olsen as the starter, the Panthers allowed him to leave. That gives Thomas his shot as the primary receiving tight end in the offense installed by new head coach Matt Rhule. No longer in Olsen’s shadow, Thomas becomes the unquestioned starter in a scheme that is expected to be pass-heavy.
Christopher Herndon IV (New York Jets) – After a promising rookie season with 39 receptions for 502 yards, Herndon missed last year due to a suspension and injuries. He’s back as the starter and already receiving rave reviews from coaches as a possible breakout player this year.
It is rare that more than three or four starting tight ends are produced by any draft class, let alone six in only their third seasons. The 2018 draft class gets its shot at being one of the strongest sets of tight ends in NFL history.