Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez Are the Top Tight End Duo in the NFL

Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIJanuary 2, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27:  (L-R) Rob Gronkowski #87 and Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski caught a 24-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Sometimes stats can be a bit misleading, but for the most part they're pretty concrete—and in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez's case, it's as blatantly obvious as it can be. 

The New England Patriots' tight end duo is by far the best pair of tight ends in the NFL—and perhaps in NFL history. 

New England's 49-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills was a record-setting day as Gronkowski surpassed San Diego Chargers' Kellen Winslow's 1980 record of 1,290 receiving yards as a tight end. Gronk smashed that record as he finished 2011 with a whopping 1,327 receiving yards. 

Not only did Gronkowski break that record this past weekend, but he is also the NFL's single-season record-holder for tight ends as he finished this season with 17 touchdown receptions. 

Gronkowski alone has put up remarkable numbers in 2011, but when you combine his with his teammate's stats, they create the greatest single season by a tight end duo in league history. 

New England's two young tight ends combined for a phenomenal 169 receptions, which is an NFL record. The two also accumulated a whopping 2,237 receiving yards and 24 total touchdowns. 

Entering the playoffs, New England arguably has the top passing game in the league, as Tom Brady has a plethora of weapons. Not only can he shred the middle of the field with Gronkowski and Hernandez, but he also has one of the best wide receiver combinations in Wes Welker and Deion Branch.

For opposing defenses, it will be a huge challenge to shut down both Gronkowski and Hernandez—as a team can only really shut down one, just ask the Denver Broncos as Hernandez exploded for nine receptions for 129 yards in a touchdown in the team's Week 15 victory as the Broncos double-teamed Gronkowski. 

Gronkowski and Hernandez are one of the most difficult combos to defend against in the NFL today—it certainly shows after this record-breaking season. 


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