George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, if not the best, and a three-year grade from Pro Football Focus is further proof.
Looking back, it’s amazing that George Kittle was the ninth tight end drafted in 2017 out of the University of Iowa (fifth round, pick, No. 146). Over the last two seasons he has become a star, with at least 85 catches and over 1,000 yards each season. As he enters the last year of his rookie contract, he is set to reset the top of the tight end market by a healthy margin with his next contract.
Kittle catches the ball like a wide receiver and blocks like an offensive lineman, which are equally important skills in a San Francisco 49ers‘ offense that is based off the running game. He is the No. 1 target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Kittle was the 68th offensive player drafted in 2017 (counting offensive lineman). There’s little doubt any stat will show Kittle as one of the best players in the draft class. Pro Football Focus‘ cumulative grades of offensive players in that draft class three years in is only further proof.
PFF has graded only Patrick Mahomes better than Kittle among offensive players in the 2017 draft class. Mahomes was the 10th overall pick, Christian McCaffrey went No. 8 and Godwin looks like a steal himself as a third-round pick (No. 84 overall). Mahomes is a transcendent talent at the most important position in the sport, and McCaffrey is coming off a 2019 campaign where he became the third running back in NFL history to put up 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in a season. And there’s Kittle, right there in that elite company.
Kittle’s all-around talent advances his case to be called the NFL’s best tight end, and his value to the 49ers is particularly high. If his agent needed any more data to back trying to get a deal that would put Kittle competitively toward the top of the wide receiver market ($16-$17 million per year), PFF has provided some.