1. Jimmy Graham, Saints – He’s 26 years old, and in three seasons has 215 catches and 25 touchdowns. He’s so athletic, and can do things no other tight end can. Combine that with Drew Brees and a pass-happy offense (we don’t believe what Sean Payton says about running more), and look for Graham to have another monster 2013, which will include near 100 catches, about 1000 yards plus yards and double digit scores.
2. Vernon Davis, 49’ers – Look for a career-year from the 29-year-old Davis in 2013, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him double his number from 2012, which included 61 catches for 548 yards and five scores. Davis is an impact player on maybe the best team in the game, and he will have his number called early and often for the Niners.
3. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – No doubt he’s probably the best TE in the game, but facing a fourth surgery and his off the field antics, it could mean ‘Gronk’ comes crashing down a bit in 2013. Tom Brady loves him, as shown by his 11 TD grabs, but he simply has had major issues staying healthy, and with Aaron Hernandez making plays as well, Gronk isn’t the tops on our list, but no doubt he’s still one of the best TE’s in the game.
4. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons – Did anyone actually think Gonzalez would walk away after the huge year he had in 2012? 930 yards and eight TD’s to go along with 93 catches in 2012, there’s simply too much gas in the tank for him to walk away just yet. Look for a big season again from Gonzo in 2013 with Matt Ryan and he making big plays quite a bit for the Falcons.
5. Dennis Pitta, Ravens – The playoff hero for the Ravens signed his second-round tender Monday, and will be back with an even bigger season than his 61 catch, 669 yard and seven TD season in 2012. Pitta became Joe Flacco’s biggest target late, and with Anquan Boldin off to the Niners, Pitta is going to be a big target in 2013.
6. Owen Daniels, Texans – 62 grabs for 716 yards and six TD’s in 2012, and you can’t deny how well he can get downfield, giving Matt Schaub another target other than super WR Andre Johnson. He’s 31 years old and Texans fans are thinking this could be his career year in 2013. Here’s a bet they are right.
7. Jason Witten, Cowboys – It’s good when your the best friend of the franchise QB, and for Witten, it paid off with his best year in 2012, with 110 catches for 1039 yards and three TD’s. With Jerry Jones wanting a bigger year for Romo, it could actually mean a bigger year for Witten, which is hard to imagine based on his 2012.
8. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots – While Gronk gets all the pub, Hernandez can hold his own. Had 51 grabs for 483 yards and five TD’s last season, and with Gronk’s injury issues, his numbers could go much higher this season. He also can carry the ball, which is just about unheard of for a tight end.
9. Dustin Keller, Dolphins – Keller gets out of that media frenzy in New York, and should benefit with a fresh start in Miami. He had injuries last season, but will be a solid fit in an offense with a pass game with speedy wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. Look for a season more like 2011 when he had 815 yards and five scores.
10. Greg Olsen, Panthers – Cam Newton’s go-to TE, Olsen last season put career highs for catches with 69 and yards with 843. Olsen can bring it in the run blocking game as well, which is why Ron Rivera loves him on his team.