With the NFL’s top 100 well under way, we here at Real Sport thought we would give you our own version; The RS 100. Every writer here had the chance to vote for the 100 best players from the 2015 season. This ranking was done regardless of position value or salary cap cost. It was simply based on who had the best 2015 season. As a result you won’t see quality players like Jordy Nelson anywhere on our ranking as he didn’t play a single snap in the 2015 season.
Voting panel: Toby Durant, Remy Cabache, Cameron Tennyson, Rebecca Rennie, Daniel Hernandez, David Pruett, Ryan Tolster
Rob Gronkowski, Tight End, New England Patriots
(TD: #6, RC: #4, CT: #10, RR: #7, DH: #7, DH: #4, RT: #10)
The Patriots big tight end comes in at #7, far and away the highest at his position.
By now you should be familiar with Gronkowski’s heroics as a receiver. I could pull up gif after gif of crazy catches and runs from previous seasons, but let’s try and keep it to the 2015 season otherwise we could be here forever.
In the 15 regular season games Gronkowski played in 2015 he got 72 catches, 1,176 yards & 11 touchdowns. Despite the fact that he is far and away the best target in Tom Brady’s arsenal teams simply haven’t found an effective way to defend him. In the playoffs he added 15 catches, 227 yards and 3 touchdowns despite both the Kansas City and Denver defenses knowing he was getting the ball.
In week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers New England showed a red zone formation with 4 tight ends before splitting out 3 of them and throwing this back corner fade for a touchdown. That’s the kind of thing that only having Rob Gronkowski allows you to do.
But for as good as receiver as Gronk is he might be a better blocker – he just doesn’t get the recognition because tight end blocking is basically as far from a premium trait in the NFL as it is possible to get in 2015. As an inline blocker he is more than capable of handling 95% of defensive ends on his own, but a big part of his ability comes on the move. The Patriots love to use him on wham blocks – that is motioning him from one end of the line to another, and then on the snap having him come back into the formation and picking up an unblocked interior linemen.
Here is is doing a similar block, but from an off-line, more full back like position. He comes across the formation on the snap and blasts Jacksonville’s new $90 million man Malik Jackson back 4 yards.
His ability as a blocker and dominance as a receiver have made him the perfect red zone weapon for New England and means that he doesn’t give defenses a key like Jimmy Graham does.