(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Antonio Gates remains the San Diego Chargers' biggest and most consistent threat on passing downs.
The big tight end out of Kent State was slowed somewhat by remnants of injuries sustained in 2007 and new ones suffered in 2008, but he still managed to lead the team in receptions with 60 and TDs with eight.
Gates boasts a great mix of size, strength, and speed that produces matchup problems for any defense. Too fast to be covered by most linebackers and too big to be guarded by safeties, the three-time Pro Bowler can be a nightmare for opposing teams when used properly.
Pros: Most explosive tight end in the game today, has speed to run with secondaries and strength to out-muscle linebackers, at 6'4" and 260, is a big target for QB Philip Rivers, soft hands and basketball background make him an excellent ball handler, equally effective in short and long passing game.
Cons: Even with recent improvements, still not the best blocking tight end, injuries have creeped up on him in recent years, with fears that ankle and foot conditions can be chronic, is coming off weakest season statistically since rookie year.
Season Outlook: Now, more than ever with Tony Gonzalez out of the AFC, Gates is the premier tight end in the conference, and should put up Pro Bowl worthy numbers once more. Seventy-80 receptions and 900-1,000 yards are not out of the question.