Pro Football Focus released its Top 25 tight ends on Thursday and the outlet, which stated its ranking has nothing to do with pro potential, had three Georgia players on the list. Sophomore Brock Bowers came in at No. 1, followed by a redshirt sophomore Arik Gilbert at No. 3 and junior Darnell Washington at No. 14. All three were among the eight players mentioned in the superlatives section.
Bowers was appropriately named the ‘top dog.’
Bowers was in the conversation for the best tight end in college football last year despite being a true freshman. This year, as a true sophomore, he’s quite easily the best returning tight end in college football, as he earned a 91.7 PFF receiving grade in 2021 while generating 3.14 yards per route run. That’s a never-before-seen level of production at PFF from a true freshman — and a level rarely obtained by any player at the position. His speed, explosiveness and ball skills are all in elite territory.
Bowers is already a college football star and has the chance to piece together a historic career if he can sustain his current pace.
Bowers was named to the Associated Press All-America Second Team, the USA Today and ESPN All-America First Team, the Coaches’ SEC Freshman of the Year, the AP SEC Newcomer of the Year, the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year, and the 247Sports Freshman of the Year. Playing in all 15 games and making 13 starts, he made 56 catches for 882 yards and 13 touchdowns, all single-season program records for a tight end, with the 13 touchdown catches also being a program record for any pass catcher. His 10 receptions in the SEC Championship game set a record for tight ends in that game. He also had four carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Washington was one of five players mentioned in the ‘biggest projection’ section.
Washington’s receiving production is nothing to write home about, but he has made the most of his opportunities and been an exceptional run blocker. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end is only scratching the surface of what he can become. Washington has converted 10 of his 27 career targets into a gain of 15 or more yards while averaging 18.8 yards per reception overall. He has also broken nine tackles after the catch on 17 career receptions.
In addition, Washington ranks 12th among Power Five tight ends in run-blocking grade since coming to Athens as a five-star recruit in 2020.
In 21 games, Washington has 17 catches for 321 yards and a touchdown, making 13 starts in his first two seasons at Georgia. Gilbert was one of two players named the ‘biggest sleepers’ among college tight ends heading into this season.
The past few years have been a roller coaster for Gilbert. After dazzling in his 2020 true freshman campaign with LSU, the former five-star opted to transfer. He initially committed to Florida but backed out to join Georgia. Although the 6-foot-5, 248-pound tight end did not play a snap in their 2021 national title run due to personal reasons. Gilbert is expected to suit up for the ‘Dawgs in 2022 and already turned heads this past spring. He is poised to build on his first collegiate season, for which he earned a 73.0 receiving grade that ranked third among SEC tight ends.
Gilbert transferred to Georgia last summer, making his way to campus on June 1. He went through summer workouts with the team and earned recognition for his work in the classroom. He started preseason camp with the program but left the team in mid-August. The 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore returned to the team in January and had two touchdown catches in April’s G-Day spring scrimmage. As a prospect, Gilbert was the nation’s No. 5 overall prospect and No. 1 tight end per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. He chose LSU and played in seven games for the Tigers in 2020, catching 35 passes for 368 yards and two scores
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