Tyler Higbee's Index Score

Using the same method for calculating a composite index score for offensive linemen, I came up with numbers for NFL tight ends for the last 3 years. Due to things like injuries, some players didn't appear in enough games to qualify all 3 years (for example, Darren Waller only started 6 games in 2022.) I didn't do all the TEs, I just pulled out the highest scorers and who started enough games to be full time starters. In descending order of their 3 year average score, these are the top NFL TEs, per this metric:

Travis Kelce 185.5. Crazy. In a class of his own. I didn't think it was possible to score 200 in the index, but Kelce proved this wrong by hitting 207.5 in 2020.

George Kittle 148.6. Amazingly, Kittle would be better than Kelce if we were looking at a different time period, because Kittle scored an unbelievable 215 in 2019 and scored 199.7 in 2018. So, his last 3 years have been down years, a shadow of his prime. Yet, even this weaker version of Kittle comes in 2nd place.

Darren Waller 142.6, if we take out his injured 2022 season and replaced it with his 2019 season, when he had a great 163.2 score. Unless he can return to form, his best years might be behind him.

Mark Andrews 139.9. High of 183.5 in 2021. His average was dragged down by a relatively poor 2020 season. Experts say that his production that hear was impacted by offensive line problems, Lamar Jackson struggling when pressured and scheme changes.

Dallas Goedert 130.9. High of 160..9 in 2021, he had a super low SIS number in 2020 when he only appeared in 11 games. He got injured early in 2020 and went on IR, missing more than a month. If we used his 2019 season instead of 2020, his 3 year average would be 146.1, nipping on the heels of Kittle.

Kyle Pitts 125.5. High of 136.3 in 2021. He only made 10 starts in 2022, so his "true" average presumably would be at least 130.

Dalton Schultz 111.7. High of 150.1 in 2021, way higher than his 2022 and 2020 scores. After his breakout 2021, Dallas franchise tagged him, but he had a "down" season in 2022. Schultz got a one year contract with the Texans for $6.25 million, plus incentives. Higbee's contract has an average salary of $7.25 million.

Hunter Henry 111.7. High of 133.6. He's had kind of a frustrating career, because he's had some big seasons (he scored 131.2 back in 2017), but he's also had injury issues and was on a struggling Patriot offense last year.

Cole Kmet 104.9. Breakout 2022 with a 137.6 score, a big jump from his first 2 NFL seasons. He was a 2nd round pick in 2020.

Dawson Knox 103.8. Only a 2 yr average, because he didn't start enough games in 2019 to qualify. High of 107.1 in 2022. The media seems to really like Knox, but he doesn't score as well in this metric as you'd think relative to his reputation.

Noah Fant 103.6. High of 111.6 in 2021. Went to Seattle as part of the Russell Wilson trade. Statistically, had a down year in receiving production, but his blocking metrics saw some improvement.

Tyler Higbee 103. High of 120.7 in 2022. He scored 91.2 in 2021 and 97.2 in 2020. If we looked at his whole career and did a 6 year average, his best score was 158.1 in 2019 and he was at 117.4 in 2018 and 97.3 in 2017. His 6 yr average is 113.7. Looking inside his numbers, Higbee had an outlier receiving season in 2019 (you might remember that he had a scorching hot streak where he piled up a ton of yards. I was skeptical at the time, because most of his catches were "system" catches, they weren't plays where he created his own separation.) He had an abnormally high SIS receiving point total in 2019 (24 points) and has never come close to reaching the same mark in any other season of his career. Higbee had such a poor receiving season in 2021 that SIS gave him zero receiving points that season.

On the other hand, Higbee also had an abnormally poor 2020 season in terms of run blocking. He had a number of injuries in 2020, including I believe some type of elbow problem and it seemed to very obviously impact his play strength. He had as many blown run blocks that year as he did in 2021 and 2022 combined, and somehow managed to get zero SIS run blocking points. In a normal year, Higbee gets about 10 run blocking points. If Higbee could stay healthy and have a good season in both blocking and receiving, my estimate is that he could score about 125 points, so I think his average on this list kind of sells him short. He just hasn't been able to avoid injuries and be a consistent performer week in and week out.

Higbee's run and pass block rankings among all TEs, per SIS, except for that poor 2020 season: 4th in run, 1st in pass in 2022; 10th in both run and pass in 2021; 14th in run, 3rd in pass in 2019, 1st in both run and pass in 2018, 5th in run, poor in pass in 2017. So, when healthy, Higbee is measured as a top 10 type blocker among TEs by SIS.

Gerald Everett 98.3 over last 2 seasons. He didn't have enough starts to qualify back when he was TE2 for the Rams, but surprisingly his career high was 118 in 2019.

On the whole, Higbee isn't an elite player, but he's a balanced player who has value both as a receiver and a blocker. His salary level seems to be about right for his projected performance level when healthy.