Tight End University is underway in Nashville Tennesee where the league’s most elite tight ends come together and share ideas and techniques for a few days.
Aside from coming together to learn, Kittle also thought it was a good way to shine a light on an underrated position.
When asked by ESPN if it bothers him that the tight end position is “undervalued” across the league, he had a lot to say.
“100% it does,” Kittle said. “I think TE is the most unique and diverse position. It’s the most fun position because it’s the only one on the field where you get to do everything that a football player does. You run block, you pass pro, you get to run routes and catch the football. We do everything!”
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Kittle Explains Why the NFL Transition Is Tough For TEs
A total of 49 tight ends showed up to the summit, including several rookies.
According to Kittle, you don’t see tight ends posting All-Pro or Pro Bowl seasons right off the bat because it takes at least a year for them to adjust to a faster-paced game.
The two-time Pro Bowler told Heavy why the jump to the professional level is harder for tight ends than at any other position.
“As a rookie, all you’re trying to do is memorize your playbook so you don’t mess up on film and so your coach doesn’t yell at you. You’re not really focusing on all the areas of your craft. For the tight end position, they kind of ask you to do everything. Whether it’s running routes and catching passes, or run blocking––you have to do everything really well to be a well-rounded tight end.”
Kittle is proof of that, as he was drafted out of the University of Iowa in 2017 and didn’t see his first Pro Bowl and second All-Pro year until the following season. During his second season, he set the 49ers’ franchise record for receiving yards in one game by a tight end (210) and become the first Niners tight end to surpass 1,000 receiving yards. He also broke Travis Kelce’s single-season receiving yards record for a tight end, finishing 2018 with 1,377 yards.
“There’s just so many things going on and it takes them a year for everything to slow down and for them to be able to figure out the playbook, but then focus on all the other skills like, “Hey, I got to work on my first step in the run game. I need to work on this top of the route. I got to catch more jugs balls. And so you figure out after that rookie year, everything slows down.”
The Full List of Tight Ends
Below is the full list of tight ends Kittle invited to TEU via social media:
Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, Noah Fant, Austin Hooper, Kyle Rudolph, Marcedes Lewis, Cole Kmet, Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith, Logan Thomas, Tyler Higbee, Eric Ebron, Hayden Hurst, Dalton Schultz, Chris Manhertz, Colby Parkinson, Blake Bell, Ross Dwelley, Kyle Pitts, Dallas Goedert, David Njoku, Kaden Smith, Irv Smith Jr, Hunter Henry, Chris Herndon, Dominique Dafney, Robert Tonyan, Dawson Knox, Will Dissly, Luke Stocker, C.J. Uzomah, T.J. Hockenson, Charlie Woerner, Daniel Helm, Alex Ellis, Eli Wolf, Ethan Wolf and Anthony Firkser.
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