For the optimist, tight end has never looked deeper. Well beyond the sure things like George Kittle and Travis Kelce there is a group of unproven tight ends with enormous opportunity. No I'm not talking about Hayden Hurst, he's moved beyond "maybe" in the consensus. I don't mean Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson either, they at least have the pedigree of former first round picks. No, the optimist is looking even deeper for the tight ends who will shore up this position in the future. Here are my favorites, and where they landed in the tiers.
Jonnu Smith is a solid Tier 5 tight end who could very well be a top-12 option as soon as this year. Smith took over at basically the same time Ryan Tannehill did last year, and whenever Tannehill actually threw the ball Smith was productive. He averaged 10.0 targets per game and scored double-digit PPR points in three of his final four games. We expect the Titans to throw more in 2020 than they did in 2019 and there's really no one standing in the way of Smith becoming the team's second-best pass catcher.
Ian Thomas will get a chance at a full-time gig in Carolina with Greg Olsen off to Seattle. He sits at the top of Tier 6, but there's plenty of longterm upside as he just turned 24 years old. We don't know exactly what the Panthers offensive scheme will look like in 2020 but with their poor defense we expect them to be amongst the league leaders in pass attempts once again. With his excellent size and athleticism, and a couple of years in the NFL, Thomas could be primed for a breakout.
Blake Jarwin is in that same tier, and has a better short term outlook than Thomas. He'll replace Jason Witten, who somehow finished as a top-12 tight end last year. Jarwin isn't as athletic as Thomas, but he should certainly be expected to do more after the catch than Witten. If he gets the same target share Witten did we should expect a top 12 season from Jarwin. If he was as young as Thomas, Jarwin would be in Tier 5 with Smith.
Here are the rest of my July Dynasty tiers for tight ends: