NFL training camps are fast approaching, which means it is again time for the league's true insiders to have their say. As part of ESPN's 2023 NFL season preview, we surveyed league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help us rank the top 10 players at 11 different positions, from quarterback to cornerback and all positions in between. This is the fourth edition of these rankings, and as usual, several players have moved up or fallen off last year's lists.
By way of refresher, here's how our process works: Voters give us their best 10 players at a position, then we compile the results and rank candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, along with dozens of interviews, research and film study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, more than 80 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with those surveyed.
Each section includes quotes and nuggets from the voters on every ranked player -- even the honorable mentions. The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2023. This is not a five-year projection or a career achievement award. Who are the best players today? Check out who makes the list at every position on ESPN+.
We will roll out a position per day over 11 days. The schedule: Off-ball linebackers (7/8), defensive tackles (7/9), edge rushers (7/10), cornerbacks (7/11), safeties (7/12), tight ends (7/13), running backs (7/14), offensive tackles (7/15), guards and centers (7/16), quarterbacks (7/17) and wide receivers (7/18).
And from 2020 to 2022, the voting for the best tight end was incredibly close. Kelce was the Ferrari route runner with plenty of tread on the tires. Kittle was the off-road Hummer with hybrid sensibilities.
This year's voting was not at all close, marking a rare style of victory for this exercise: A 33-year-old at a skill position dominating the process.
Let's look at some of the game's top tight ends as ranked by execs, coaches, scouts and players around the NFL. The class includes mostly familiar faces, and a few new ones who made the cut.