Recently, the fine writers and analysts at ESPN.com released their 2011 Top Ten Tight Ends ranking, which you can read here. The list further reassures Pittsburgh Steelers fans something that they already knew – that Heath Miller is still extremely underrated.
Of course you’re going to find the usual suspects, as with any top tight end ranking, they’ve been the same for the most part over the past couple of years. You’ll find names like San Diego’s Antonio Gates, Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, and Indianapolis’ Dallas Clark.
In fact, the actual rankings look like this:
1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
2. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts
4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
5. Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins
6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
7. Kellen Winslow Jr., Tampa Bay
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
9. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
10. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay
Wait. Brandon Pettigrew and Jermichael Finley got ranked above Heath Miller? How on earth did that happen?
Considering that Heath Miller had more touchdowns in 2007 alone than either of the players above have in their careers, plus three times the receiving yardage, it’s a disgrace to say the least.
Without a doubt Miller is snubbed because he doesn’t fit the mold of today’s tight end, which are just glorified receivers. Seriously, when’s the last time you saw Dallas Clark lay the springing block for Joseph Addai? Well, Miller tends to open holes for Rashard Mendenhall quite often, and still manages to have very soft hands for a tight end.
Plus, he’s got a set of wheels on him when he needs to move, as evidenced by him currently having the longest reception in the history of Heinz Field.
I can’t argue with Witten being in the top spot, because he’s a guy like Miller, but he’s the focal point of the Cowboys passing game. Which, isn’t surprising with receivers the caliber of Roy Williams and an injured Dez Bryant (by the way, he owes me a few grand, guess I shouldn’t hold my breath on that one).Very rarely do you see that a tight end catches the ball nearly 100 times and for over 1,000 yards AND still gets his hits in during the run game – that’s who Jason Witten is and what he does.
But, Miller tends to be overlooked much in the way that Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels used to be overlooked. You remember when everyone and their mother called him the most underrated player in the NFL? Well, after a year of that the stories got rolling and it turns out that he’s 7’2 and can spit fire. So, needless to say Daniels doesn’t hold that distinction anymore, and dare I say it, just may be a tad overrated at this point.
Miller averaged over 12 yards a catch in 2010, caught the ball 42 times for over 500 yards and scored twice, along with being a huge help in the running game with his size, speed and strength and he was apparently the 13th best tight end in the NFL?
Miller only finished the balloting process with a meager six points, and was rated no higher than the seventh best tight end. I think Pittsburgh fans would have been happy with a seventh overall finish, after all no one is clamoring to have Miller hold the crown as the best NFL tight end in the history of…ever. Or anything extreme like that, but at the same rate, Pettigrew? Finley? Dustin Keller even?
But, to end on a happy note, lists and rankings are essentially used to shake up the climate of the NFL world, to get fans talking and arguing, and while Miller finished nowhere near where his play deems he should, the one thing that matters is that Steelers fans know exactly what he can do, and he can do it all very well.
If you like what you’re reading, or, heck, even if you hate it, I’d like to know. Feel free to drop a comment, an email, or to tell me how horrible I am via Twitter – @rssteelers