Here's where Patriots' Hunter Henry ranks on ESPN's top NFL tight ends list

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Here's where Hunter Henry ranks on ESPN's top NFL tight ends list originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

ESPN has been rolling out its top 10 NFL players at every position rankings over the last few weeks, and the New England Patriots have been among the least-represented teams on these lists.

The ranking of the top 10 tight ends was revealed Thursday, and two New England Patriots players are mentioned.

The first is Hunter Henry, who comes in at No. 10 on the list.

"Henry won a tiebreaker with Miami's Mike Gesicki to land the final spot in the top 10, with voters preferring Henry's traditional tight end presence over Gesicki's vertical-threat ability," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote.

"Really reliable player," an NFL scouting director told Fowler about Henry. "Great hands. Quick and savvy."

The Patriots signed Henry as part of their free agency spending spree in 2021, and he was among the best additions to the roster. The 27-year-old veteran caught 50 passes for 603 yards and nine touchdowns. He also played a full season for the first time in his career.

Another Patriots tight end who received votes, but not enough to rank inside the top 10 was Jonnu Smith. The Patriots signed Smith in 2021, too, and he had a disappointing debut season in New England with just 28 receptions for 294 yards and one touchdown.

Curran: Dedicated Jonnu Smith determined to make amends for lost 2021 season

If the Patriots offense is going to show meaningful improvement in 2022, the team needs Smith to have a bounce-back season. Having a strong tight end duo of Henry and Smith would be great for young quarterback Mac Jones and put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses. Two effective tight ends running down the field also would create more favorable matchups for Patriots wide receivers such as DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne.

Many of the best Patriots offenses over the last 20 years have featured one or two excellent tight ends. They have the ability to create a similarly successful offense next season if Henry and Smith play to their potential. Henry has shown he's capable of doing it here, now it's Smith's turn.