Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers usually hold the spotlight in the NFL, but in 2011, we saw the tight end take center stage. Teams are featuring TEs far more to exploit mismatches generated by the size and speed of some of the best at the position. And with a young generation of talented tight ends just now emerging, it's a trend we should see continue in the years ahead.
Earlier this summer we looked into the future with the NFL Future Power Rankings, examining how teams were situated heading into the 2015 season. Since then we've broken down some of the best projected performers at running back and wide receiver (currently in the NFL) when 2015 rolls around. Now it's time to take a look at the tight ends, starting with a player who recently cashed in on his epic 2011 success.
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronkowski might go down as the greatest tight end that has ever lived. Seriously. After just two seasons in the NFL, Gronkowski has scored an amazing 28 touchdowns and put together the greatest season ever by a tight end in 2011. The only word -- and it is a vastly overused term when describing football players -- to accurately define Gronkowski is "dominant." He is the total package with an outstanding nasty demeanor on the field. That won't be changing anytime soon.