The best tight ends from 2022 the Steelers are set to face in 2023
After taking a look at the top rushers (HERE), receivers (HERE), and quarterbacks (HERE) from 2022 who are scheduled to face the Steelers in 2023, today it’s time to check out a position group that might have been left out all together as they share yardage with wide receivers. But since many fans are concerned about defending this position in 2023, let’s look at the tight ends who are on the Steelers schedule this season who finished toward the top of the yardage standings last year. As I said before, there could be injuries, trades, benchings, or holdouts which could make these players not able to see the field when they face the Black and Gold. But for now, these things can’t be known for sure. This list consists of players listed as tight ends by Pro Football Reference who had at least 500 receiving yards in 2022, their overall rank in yardage last season, and the week in which they will face the Steelers. For reference sake, Pat Freiermuth is sixth on the list with 732 receiving yards.
Mark Andrews (3rd)
Week 5, Week 18
No stranger to the Steelers, Mark Andrews has faced the Steelers eight times in five seasons. When the Steelers defeated the Ravens on Sunday Night Football on New Year’s Day this past season, it was the first time Mark Andrews has gone for 100 receiving yards against the Steelers as he hit the mark exactly on nine receptions on nine targets. But what might surprise Steelers fans is that Andrews has never scored a touchdown against Pittsburgh in his NFL career. But looking at his numbers specifically against the Steelers, Andrews only has 12 yards, 45 yards, and 17 yards receiving in the three wins where the Ravens have managed to beat the Steelers when Andrews has been on the field.
Evan Engram (4th)
Despite being a Pro Bowler in 2020, Evan Engram saw his best career receiving numbers in his first year in Jacksonville which led to their use of the franchise tag before he signed a multiyear deal. With career highs in receiving yards (766), receptions (73), and catch percentage (74.5%), Ingram has become an even bigger threat since moving into the AFC. But in his only game against the Steelers which came in Week 1 of the 2020 season with the New York Giants, Ingram only had two receptions on seven targets for 9 yards.
George Kittle (5th)
San Francisco 49ers
One of two tight ends who had double-digit touchdowns in 2022, George Kittle hit the number only appearing in 15 games while Travis Kelce only bested him by one touchdown and didn’t miss a game. Being on an NFC team, the Steelers are not overly familiar with George Kittle as he’s only appeared against them in one game in 2019 where he had six receptions for 57 yards. Facing the 49ers to start the season, the Steelers will have a big test to show but they can defend the tight end in 2023. But it is unclear at this time who is going to be throwing Kittle the ball to open the season.
David Njoku (8th)
Week 2, Week 11
Of all the players on this list, David Njoku is the one the Steelers are the most familiar with as they have faced him 11 times since he was drafted just ahead of T.J. Watt in 2017. In the 11 games against the Steelers, Njoku has only gone over 50 receiving yards once which was Week 3 last season when he caught nine of 10 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. In fact, Njoku has had a touchdown in his last three games against the Steelers, the only touchdowns he’s had against them in his career.
Tyler Higbee (9th)
Los Angeles Rams
Despite having an unstable quarterback situation throughout the season, Tyler Higbee saw the most receptions of his career in 2022 with 72. It should also be noted that he saw a huge increase in targets of 108 as the Rams were dealing with injury at the wide receiver position. Exactly what can be expected from the Rams offense this year is a big question mark, but Higbee showed he can be utilized within their offense. The last time the Steelers faced the Rams, Higbee had three receptions for 22 yards in their 2019 matchup.
Dalton Schultz (10th)
Despite going over 500 yards in 2022, Dalton Schultz actually had his fewest yards of the last three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Signing as a free agent with the Houston Texans, it will be interesting to see how Schultz is utilized in 2023. With the Steelers facing the Texans in the first quarter of the season, there won’t be much to go on to see if Schultz is bringing more to the table with his new team.
Hunter Henry (13th)
New England Patriots
After spending his first five seasons of his NFL career with the Chargers, albeit he missed the entire 2018 season, Hunter Henry is entering year three with New England. In every season he’s appeared in a game, Henry has over 500 receiving yards with the exception of his rookie season where he came up just short with 478. The bigger number Steelers fans should be worried about is his touchdowns as Henry had nine receiving touchdowns in 2021 with the Patriots but only two in 2022. In the game against the Steelers last year, Henry had no receptions on one target in the New England victory. But Henry does have quite the past with the Steelers as in 2019 he went for 100 receiving yards on eight receptions and two touchdowns in a Chargers loss on Sunday Night Football.