I happened to be thinking the other day how there is just an incredible amount of talent assembled in the NFC South at the TE position- possibly the best collection in a division of all time. Most of you know who I am talking about- our own Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow.
Clearly Tony Gonzalez is a future Hall of Famer, probably the greatest TE of all time, and has set the bar for over a decade of what constitutes an elite tight end. His resume speaks for itself. Just his presence among the four NFC South TEs elevates the group. He is the Gold Standard.
Jimmy Graham is young, but his stats and accomplishments so far have been incredible. His resume is short, but his first 1- 1/2 (almost) seasons measure up to that of any TE's who have played the game. Around the league it seems to be unanimous that great things will be continued to be expected of him. His athleticism is off the charts.
The controversial Jeremy Shockey has had an excellent career, although hindered by injuries frequently. He has been a game changer and although he is not in the prime of his career, he can continue to make most if not all defenders look silly with his receiving skills. Additionally, he is an excellent blocking TE.
Kellen Winslow has had a very good career, although clearly affected by an early broken leg, a motorcycle accident, and a staph infection while in Cleveland. He has stayed healthy recently, and when healthy he has put up great numbers. He has made the Pro Bowl and is very athletic and productive. A little under the radar, his talent is unquestionable even when coupled with mediocre QBs in the past.
I will concede that I have not done scientific research to compare these four with tight ends of divisions past ( and not just NFC South, but all divisions) , but I have been an NFL fan for over 45 years and I can't remember a better assembly at this position in the past as I reflect back. I would love to hear some feedback and how WHO DAT Nation views this topic.