Each year, NFL Network polls players across the league to ask who their best peers currently playing the game are. Over the course of the offseason, the list gets revealed 10 players at the time. Heading into yesterday’s show, 80 players have heard their names called – none of them playing for the New England Patriots. Yesterday, however, the first member of the reigning AFC champions was revealed: Rob Gronkowski at number 15.
Gronkowski is unsurprisingly the highest ranked tight end on the list as he is coming off another productive season: He led all tight ends in receiving yards and yards per catch, was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams, and further manifested his status as the best his position has to offer. It was business as usual for Gronkowski, who showed that he is still one of the biggest offensive weapons in the NFL.
His peers seem to agree by voting him as the 15th best player of 2018. Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones is one of the players to speak about Gronkowski in the short clip presenting him: “Rob does things that wide receivers do. Rob does things that tight ends do. And Rob does things that offensive linemen do,” the former Patriots first-round draft pick said about his former teammate. “Rob is a man of many talents.”
“I think his mindset when he takes the football field is ‘I want to be the best player on the field, I want to go dominate the game,’” said Matthew Slater, who like Gronkowski serves as a team captain for the Patriots. “It’s not only in the passing game: He wants to dominate in the run game, he wants to impose his will on the opponent every time he takes the field.”
Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander agrees with Slater before adding that he thinks Gronkowski likes the blocking aspect of the tight end position: “A lot of tight ends don’t want to do it but he actually relishes the moment when he can maybe drive you back.” Jones sees it the same way: “Sometimes you see Rob on field, a lot of time he’s in an attack stance, pass blocking on a team’s best pass rusher.”
“When he gets going and grows into that beast mode, it’s infectious. Everyone feels that energy,” Patriots fullback James Develin pointed out. Carolina Panthers safety Mike Adams also spoke highly of Gronkowski: “Gronk is very strong and good with his body control; using his body to keep a distance between the defender and the ball. You can’t defend that.”
Gronkowski moved up eight spots from last year but an argument can be made that he still ranks too low for a player of his caliber. What do you think of the ranking?
Rob Gronkowski’s #15 ranking is...
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