2011 was the year of the quarterback, but 2012 could very well be the year of the tight end.
Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham already etched their names into the tight end record book for stellar seasons, and they're still entering the prime of their career. Not only that but they've started a new breed of tight ends—players who are bigger, stronger, faster and more like wide receivers.
The New England Patriots popularized the two tight end set with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, two players both taken in the 2010 NFL draft. Given the success Bill Belichick had running this system, this may spread a la the Wildcat offense of '08.
Tight ends on this list are graded on the usual categories—receiving, blocking, and the impact they have on their offense—but because of the importance of scoring in the modern NFL, there is a higher priority on receiving.