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Mr. Laz
07-29-2005, 07:31 PM
2005 player ratings: Tight ends

By Howard Balzer, Sports Weekly

The NFL's golden age of passing has not only highlighted the skills of wide receivers, it also trumpeted the return to prominence of the tight end in 2004. In the latest installment of our 2005 NFL player ratings series, developed by The Sports Xchange for Sports Weekly, tight ends are sorted into six categories: Elite, A Notch Below, Rock Solid, On the Rise, On the Rebound and Setting Sun.

Elite

It hasn't taken long for San Diego's Antonio Gates to reach elite status, a startling development considering his basketball background and lack of experience in football. Perhaps it's no coincidence that Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez also has a history with basketball.

Gonzalez remains the standard by which tight ends are judged, and he went off the charts with 102 receptions for 1,258 yards last season the only tight end with 1,000 yards. In just his second season, Gates was 21 catches behind Gonzalez, but Gates scored 13 TDs to Gonzalez's seven. It might not be long until Gates finds himself atop this list.

A notch below

Atlanta's Alge Crumpler might be the most complete tight end. He will likely never come close to Gonzalez's receiving numbers, but his blocking prowess is what sets him apart. Crumpler contributed 45 receptions for a 16.1-yard average and six TDs last season.

Rock solid

Randy McMichael led the Dolphins with 73 receptions last season, but he must become more consistent to advance out of this group. Off the field, charges of domestic violence are troubling.

Bubba Franks of the Packers isn't outstanding, but he contributes as both a blocker and receiver, and is a key aspect of the offense. But he is currently an unsigned transition player, and a long absence could be detrimental to his game.

While San Francisco struggles to find wide receivers, tight end Eric Johnson just hums along as the team's leading receiver. Not only did Johnson have 82 receptions last season, but that was 35 more than the team's second-leading receiver, Cedrick Wilson, who is now in Pittsburgh.

On the rise

This is an impressive group, headed by Dallas' Jason Witten. It also includes Dallas Clark of Indianapolis, Daniel Graham of New England, Jeb Putzier of Denver and L.J. Smith of Philadelphia.

Witten was outstanding in 2004, catching a team-high 87 passes for 980 yards and six TDs. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him lead the team again this season.

On another team, Clark probably would catch more balls than the 25 he snared last season. But five were for TDs, and he averaged 16.9 yards a reception. With Marcus Pollard in Detroit, Clark is bound to see more balls come his way this season.

Like Clark, Graham didn't catch a lot of passes (30) on a team that spreads the ball around. However, he had seven TDs. Much is expected of Putzier and Smith this season. Putzier averaged 15.9 yards a catch in 2004, while Smith had only 34 catches but scored five TDs.

On the rebound

Some excellent ability resides in this category, headed by the Ravens' Todd Heap and the Giants' Jeremy Shockey.

Heap's injuries last season limited him to 27 receptions, and there were still questions in the offseason about whether he is recovered. Shockey did have 61 receptions last season, but his catches per game and yards per reception were down from his first two seasons.

Minnesota's Jim Kleinsasser played in just one game last season before he was injured, and the Vikings are counting on his comeback to add toughness to the offense. But Jermaine Wiggins did prove to be a solid receiving threat during Kleinsasser's absence.

Setting sun

The Colts couldn't afford Marcus Pollard anymore, so the 33-year-old was released and signed with the Lions, joining another potentially prolific offense. Pollard hopes to bring experience and production to an offense that is young but talented. He had only 29 receptions last season, but six were for TDs. The Lions would settle for that.

Tight ends Run Brk
Rk Name Team Ht Wt Age Catch blk Spd tck Str Awa Agi Imp Ovr
1 Tony Gonzalez Chiefs 6-5 251 29 94 67 76 67 72 96 89 95 93.25
2 Antonio Gates Chargers 6-4 260 25 93 66 78 69 74 84 91 96 92.00
3 Todd Heap Ravens 6-5 252 25 92 71 75 58 71 94 89 94 89.20
4 Jeremy Shockey Giants 6-5 252 25 87 69 74 79 78 85 80 90 88.80
5 Alge Crumpler Falcons 6-2 262 27 85 79 69 71 80 89 75 92 88.30
6 Jason Witten Cowboys 6-5 257 23 88 65 78 68 70 88 84 91 86.80
7 Randy McMichael Dolphins 6-3 247 26 90 69 73 71 72 84 85 84 86.00
8 Bubba Franks Packers 6-6 265 27 84 87 69 72 78 86 74 77 85.80
9 Jim Kleinsasser Vikings 6-3 274 28 78 88 72 61 81 83 73 81 83.80
10 Eric Johnson 49ers 6-3 256 25 90 65 75 61 69 83 80 83 81.60
11 Dallas Clark Colts 6-3 257 26 87 64 76 67 69 83 81 78 81.40
12 Daniel Graham Patriots 6-3 257 26 85 66 76 65 73 79 79 77 80.40
13 Marcus Pollard Lions 6-3 247 33 87 73 72 61 68 86 78 74 80.20
14 Jeb Putzier Broncos 6-4 256 26 86 62 74 57 67 81 84 82 79.60
15 L.J. Smith Eagles 6-3 258 25 80 63 76 63 67 77 81 81 79.10

About these ratings
Methodology
The Sports Xchange, which pioneered NFL player evaluations used in top-selling video games, produced these ratings for Sports Weekly. They are based on a 100-point scale, incorporating more than 40 categories. Each week, categories are sequenced in order of importance for that position and only the categories most appropriate to each position are listed.


In addition to the listed categories, several other categories are considered, such as "injury avoidance." Categories (such as strength, speed, agility) are weighted differently at each position so the impact of the grade is appropriate to the position. These weighted grades are part of an underlying formula that determines the overall grade.



Listed ages are as of Sept. 8, date of this season's first game. The Sports Xchange's player ratings team includes Frank Cooney, Derek Harper, Howard Balzer and Brian Hitterman.


Category legend


Speed: This relates directly to a player's time in the 40-yard dash with consideration for "effective playing speed."

Awareness: Overall ability to recognize what is going on around him and react.

Agility: Combination of quickness and ability to change directions without losing speed.

Catching: Hand-eye coordination and ability to catch and hold on to a ball that is thrown, kicked or punted.

Break tackle: Ability to break tackles while carrying the ball regardless of how it came into possession.

Run blocking: Ability to block defenders during a running play, both in-line and on the move in open space.

Toughness: A player's ability to come back from injury, plus overall physicality.

Importance: Overall importance to his team. Factors include the position itself and the player's impact or role within the team's system.

CHIEF4EVER
07-29-2005, 07:36 PM
Wow. Putzier may not be able to block worth a flip but at least his awareness sucks. :evil:

Rain Man
07-30-2005, 09:11 AM
It's amazing that Tony G. isn't even 30 yet.