2020 Offseason Questions: Who Is Best TE In AFC North?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Who is the best tight end in the AFC North?

Note: for simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to use images of Steelers for the cover photos of these articles. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m arguing they’re the best.

This is an easy question, in my mind. Asked right now, the best tight end in the division is Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens. He was the featured receiving threat for their offense last year, catching 64 passes for 852 yards with 10 touchdowns on the way to a Pro Bowl. He’s also not an entirely inept blocker. In fact, in Baltimore’s system, everybody, including the wide receivers, is accountable for blocking. Andrews did have his drops, but so do some of the other tight ends in the division.

Arguably the top candidates outside of Andrews are new to the division: Eric Ebron for the Steelers and Austin Hooper, who signed with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland also has David Njoku, who hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing yet, but spent most of last season injured. Hooper caught 75 passes last year for 787 yards and six touchdowns.

There is, of course, Vance McDonald as well, who is coming off a disappointing year—then again, so is Ebron. As far as the Cincinnati Bengals go, their most notable tight end is C.J. Uzomah after Tyler Eifert signed elsewhere in free agency. His best season was in 2018, catching 43 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns.

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