All eyes will be on Tua, but will his lock on Mike Gesicki this season?
Entering a crucial fourth year, Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki looks to take the leap into the discussion as one of the game’s best.
So what will it take to get there?
In order to gain some perspective, a comparison to the best current NFL tight ends seemed like a nice place to start
Travis Kelce and now Darren Waller have emerged as the top two tight ends, with George Kittle still right there after an abbreviated season due to injury.
What Waller and Kelce have in common is an enormous target share, as both posted nearly identical numbers.
Waller led all NFL tight ends with 146 targets in 2020, with Kelce just behind him at 145.
The next highest tight end targeted was Logan Thomas with 110, while just two others broke 100 targets -Evan Engram (109) and T.J Hockenson (101).
Targets are just one part of the equation, what you do with them matters.
Kelce and Waller both hauled in over 72% of their targets in 2020, while Gesicki caught slightly over 62% of his.
Many factors contribute to this, whether it be different quarterbacks throughout the year or execution in other areas.
Nonetheless, there is plenty of room for improvement.
Mike Gesicki in 6 games with Tua (no Fitz coming in)
Tgts 38 Rec 25 Yards 290 TDs 3
Projections for a 17 game pace:
Tgts 107 Rec 70 Yards 821 TDs 8
Yes there are new weapons but Gesicki is talented enough to do this! Don’t Sleep on him! #FantasyFootball
— Steven “Coach” Pintado (@CoachStevenP) July 14, 2021
Let’s run some numbers.
Say Gesicki can accumulate 100 targets and improve his catch percentage even slightly to 68%.
That sets a floor of 68 receptions, which would be 15 more than Gesicki had in 2020.
Where Gesicki has already shown a high ceiling in comparison to other tight ends is in yards-per-reception.
Last year Gesicki ranked third among tight ends with 13.3 yards-per-reception, ahead of Waller (11.2) and Kelce (13.1).
With 68 receptions and at the same yards-per-reception, that would put Gesicki over 900 yards receiving.
Now with a 17-game slate, this seems even more attainable.
Gesicki tied for fifth among tight ends with six touchdowns, averaging one about every nine receptions.
Increased targets and improved catch percentage could see him at eight or even nine scores in 2021.
A stat line of 68/900/8 would all have been top five marks in the NFL last year.
Add an improved quarterback and more deep threats in Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller, Gesicki sits as a prime candidate for a breakout season.