Cory's Corner: Tight Ends Will Decide Super Bowl

Cory Jennerjohn writes why the tight end position will be so important in Super Bowl LIV. 

 
There is one common denominator in this upcoming Super Bowl.
 
Excellent tight end play. 
 
When Super Bowl LIV kicks off on Sunday night, you will be treated to the best tight ends in football. 
 
George Kittle and Travis Kelce are the best at their position and it really isn't even close. Both have combined for 236 targets this season and both are averaging over 12 yards a reception. 
 
I've always liked dynamic tight ends because they are in such short supply. Either you have a tight end that can run like a wideout, can block and is very athletic. That's something the Packers didn't exactly have this year. Jimmy
Graham was anything but fast and willing to block and Jace Sternberger missed too much time to get a real gauge. 
 
You can talk about the 49ers' impressive defensive line, the jaw-dropping ability of Patrick Mahomes or how it's a battle of young vs. old head coaches. 
 
No thanks. I'll take the tight end battle. Both tight ends are the best receiver on their respective team. Kittle has had 26 more targets than anyone else on the 49ers this season and Kelce has had 46 more. That's how important these guys are to their teams. 
 
The reason they are so good is because nobody can guard them. Put a linebacker on them and both will run right past. Put a corner or safety on them and they will body up the defensive back. 
 
Whatever coach can get their tight end in better offensive matchups is the one that will win this game. Whether that means splitting him out wide, putting him in the slot or even putting him in the backfield. Expect both coaches to try and hide their tight end in order to get their offense on track. 
 
But these guys don't just catch passes all over the field. They can also block and they do whatever it takes to win. That's what separates these guys from other tight ends. They are the most talented tight ends in the league that will do things that many tight ends in the NFL just won't do. 
 
The tight end position is easily overlooked in this age of speed and read-option. However, that position will decide where the next Lombardi Trophy is housed.  
 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (21)

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 28, 2020 at 07:03 am

Watching the 49ers and the Chiefs it is apparent that they have the leagues best TE's. They can make game changing plays.

That is one thing that the Packers are missing. They need a guy who can be a game changing type of player. They do need an upgrade at TE.

This last year Graham at the end of the year came up with some big plays. But he is a shell of his former self. Lewis who I like is essentially an extra OL at this point. He doesn't offer much in the passing game. Sternberger I actually like his potential for next year. And I think he maybe gained some confidence against the 49ers. His TD catch was him making and adjustment and finding an area to get free for Rodgers. I think Sternberger could have a break out year next year. Tonyan has some potential and skills. But he now will be entering year 3 and he hasn't really stepped up yet. I think he has the ability to do so, but will he?

I think its time the packers upgrade the TE position. Whether that's in FA, trade or the draft, they need to get more dynamic types of players.
One possible FA to be, that could be that guy is Hunter Henry. He has faced a lot of injuries but if he stayed healthy he would be mentioned among the best. Austin Hooper maybe the next best. Followed by Eric Ebron and Tyler Eifert. So that list isn't that attractive to be honest.
I remember last year seeing that OJ Howard was being talked about as a possible trade. I'm not sure what it would cost for him, but he may be an intriguing option.

In the draft they can find some players. But TE is a hard position for a rookie to come in and make a big impact. One intriguing option from the Senior Bowl is Stephen Sullivan from LSU. He has speed and size and can block. He only had 12 catches for 130 yards this year. But at the Senior Bowl he flashed really good skills. He is an intriguing player that could take off on the next level.

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Archie's picture

January 28, 2020 at 08:08 am

Great post. Can you imagine 12 to Kelce or Kittle?! Yes, Pack should upgrade TE position. There is a 2-way TE in this draft class that may last into R2. Hooper is a 2-way TE as is OJ Howard. Give me any 2 of those 3 and giddy-up. Like you, I'm very high on Sternburger's potential as well. Having 3 TEs that can block and catch would be huge for 12 and our offense.

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CAG123's picture

January 28, 2020 at 09:59 am

Oh no stay away fro Eifert that guy is made of glass and is still living off hype from a season that happened 5 years ago. Ebron is an interesting one though I mean he broke out last year with Luck then fell off a cliff with Jacoby and before both those seasons only had small moments here and there could a better QB like Rodgers get him back to form or is he just a one year wonder? I think they should go after Hooper with Sternberger and Lewis that’s a nice stable of TEs. Tonyan has had three years to make something shake he’s probably just a guy at this point.

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murf7777's picture

January 28, 2020 at 01:11 pm

Cag....the problem is Hooper is going to get big $’s in FA due to his production. Since the draft seems more Offense oriented. I’m thinking to use FA $’s on DL and ILB. I wouldn’t be disappointed in getting Hooper thou. As you know, like the draft, you never know who else want the same guy and gets them before you or in FA out bids you. This year I only see Gutey getting 1 big name FA and another 1-2 fringe FA’s. There will only be soo much $’s to spread around. They will also need some carryover SC into 2021. Don’t want to be in SC hell like the Vikings.

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dobber's picture

January 28, 2020 at 01:46 pm

The thing is, Hooper isn't really all that good. He catches a lot of passes, but over the last two seasons he averages a very Richard Rodgers-esque 9.5 ypc. He's benefitted from Devanta Freeman's injuries the last couple years and been Matt Ryan's outlet guy. That's fine and all, but the Packers can do that with the guys they have. If he were a good blocker, that might be a little different, but not $11M AAV-ish.

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Guam's picture

January 28, 2020 at 02:03 pm

Concur Dobber. I just don't see a top quality free agent TE out there this year and as a result the best of an average bunch is going to get overpaid (Hooper). The draft is also thin in TE's this year, so I think the Packers need to shore up other weaknesses with their cap space / draft this year. Provided they resign Lewis, the Packers will be acceptable at TE. Get much better elsewhere.

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Guam's picture

January 28, 2020 at 08:00 am

I think the Packers have much greater needs than TE, particularly a free agent TE who would eat up valuable cap space . DL, WR and ILB improvements would give the Packers much greater bang for the buck than another free agent TE. The Packers will be fine with Sternberger and Lewis with maybe a late round replacement for Tonyan.

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albert999's picture

January 28, 2020 at 08:58 am

Kittle was found in the 5th round so no sense spending to much or drafting to high just kick the scouts in the ass and make em go out there and find some sleepers

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

January 28, 2020 at 09:08 am

Packers should do BOTH.

1. Get Austin Hooper!!!!

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dobber's picture

January 28, 2020 at 09:32 am

For a team that doesn't throw to the TE very much, why go out and sign a guy who will cost MORE than Graham?

It's much cheaper to not throw to Sternberger and Marcedes Lewis (who should be resigned).

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murf7777's picture

January 28, 2020 at 01:21 pm

I think MLf will adjust to his talent and he stated that in his presser. So, if he had a highly talented TE you would see more plays designed for that position like SF. the Reality is that FA isn’t like a kid in a candy store and pick what you want. You might want that LB or DL buy someone with larger SC and/or no State tax or warm weather destination sway the FA to their team. So, you end up with plan B or C. There are other ways to build wether that be trading draft picks or player(s) (which is starting to happen more in the NFL) or the draft.

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albert999's picture

January 28, 2020 at 11:35 am

He’s really good but not the best blocker and injury prone!

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BBlake's picture

January 28, 2020 at 09:58 am

Personally, I think defense will decide the Super Bowl.

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Tarynfor12's picture

January 28, 2020 at 10:44 am

"The tight end position is easily overlooked in this age of speed and read-option."

A staple in the GB organization by choice not happenstance.

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wildbill's picture

January 28, 2020 at 11:43 am

I think resign Lewis and with Sternberger and Tonyan we will be fine. After rewatching some Packer games from this season it seems Tonyan was a willing blocker and at times effective. He missed some games after making a great catch on the sidelines. He knows our offense and if we resign Lewis , I think as a third string TE he will continue to grow. That being said I have no training on grading blockers in the NFL so have no idea what his blocking grade would be. We should not waste a top pick on a TE when we have bigger needs

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Lphill's picture

January 28, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Kelce is the best hands down better than Gronk, Sternberger will be an above average tight end I expect a big jump for him this upcoming season. I am ok with Sternberger, Lewis, Tonyon . Use the draft for other needs.

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Point-Packer's picture

January 28, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Talk about a position that Teddy T botched. Jermichael was the last TE that GB had as a #1 that would have started on any other team in the NFL. The Richard Rodgers draft selection (choice / position) was one of Ted's delusional moments (of many) he had toward the end. Other "memorable" players at the position included the great Ryan Taylor. Justin Perillo. The legendary Brian Bostick. And who could forget the great "coup" Teddy T pulled when he led a still productive Jared Cook walk and brought in Martellus Bennett and the forgettable Lance Kendricks.

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mamasboy's picture

January 28, 2020 at 03:03 pm

Excellent points, Point. I wish I could say that letting Cook go was the worst mistake Ted made, but completely wasting the 2015 draft tops it.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 29, 2020 at 10:47 am

Maybe they make a play for Cook again, especially if Brees hangs it up.

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mamasboy's picture

January 28, 2020 at 08:52 pm

The picture of Kittle shows he's the perfect fit in San Francisco!

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Point-Packer's picture

January 28, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Looks cheesed.

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