The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL / Top-11 Tight Ends in NFL History

Top-11 Tight Ends in NFL History

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LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 28: Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates a touchdown during a NFL football game against the Washington Redskins on September 28, 2001 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

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11) Charlie Sanders, Lions (1968-77)

Hall of Fame, Class of 2007
3-time first-team All-Pro
7-time Pro Bowler
336 catches for 4,817 yards (14.3 ypc) and 31 TDs

One of the first big-time pass-catching tight ends was also a solid blocker and one of the greatest players in Detroit Lions history.

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10) Jerry Smith, Redskins (1965-77)

1-time first-team All-Pro
2-time Pro Bowler
421 catches for 5,496 yards (13.1 ypc) and 60 TDs

Smith like Sanders was a big time playmaker at the tight end position, was a huge factor in the success of Coach George Allen’s “Over the hill gang”.

9) Jackie Smith, Cardinals (1963-77), Cowboys (’78)

Hall of Fame, Class of 1994
5-time Pro Bowler
480 catches for 7,918 yards (16.5 ypc) and 40 TDs
38 carries for 327 yards (8.6 ypc) and three TDs

Way too many people remember Smith for his critical dropped TD pass in Super Bowl XIII, Smith was a great player. Spent most of his time in anonymity in St.Louis.

8) Dave Casper, Raiders (1974-80, ’84), Oilers (’81-83), Vikings (’83)

Hall of Fame, Class of 2002
4-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XI champion (Raiders)
Super Bowl XV champion (Raiders)
378 catches for 5,216 yards (13.8 ypc) and 52 TDs

After recording just nine combined catches in his first two seasons, Casper became one of Kenny Stabler’s favorite targets on the classic Raiders dynasty that defined the franchise.
Best known for the “Ghost to the post” TD catch in 77 Playoffs that led to tying FG and game winning TD catch over the Baltimore Colts will be remembered forever.

7) Shannon Sharpe, Broncos (1990-99, 2002-03), Ravens (’00-01)

Hall of Fame, Class of 2011
4-time first-team All-Pro
8-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl XXXII champion (Broncos)
Super Bowl XXXIII champion (Broncos)
Super Bowl XXXV champion (Ravens)
815 catches for 10,060 yards (12.3 ypc) and 62 TDs

There’s plenty for Shannon to brag about after a career that included back-to-back Super Bowl wins playing with the Broncos’ John Elway and a third Super Bowl ring in four seasons as the Ravens’ go-to guy — a role that led to the longest TD reception in playoff history, a 96-yard score in the 2000 AFC title game.

6) Ozzie Newsome, Browns (1978-90)

Hall of Fame, Class of 1999
1-time first-team All-Pro
3-time Pro Bowler
662 catches for 7,980 yards (12.1 ypc) and 47 TDs

One of the greatest Cleveland Browns in history could make big catches in big situations.

5) Kellen Winslow, Chargers (1979-87)

Hall of Fame, Class of 1995
3-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler
541 catches for 6,741 yards (12.5 ypc) and 45 TDs

One of the original downfield threats from the tight end spot, the 6’5”, 250-pounder led the entire NFL in receptions in 1980 and ’81.

The No. 13 pick out of Missouri posted three of the more impressive seasons ever — with 89 catches for 1,290 yards (14.5 ypc) and nine TDs in 1980, 88 catches for 1,075 yards and 10 TDs in 1981, and 88 catches for 1,172 yards and eight TDs in 1983. I rate him this low, because let’s face it he was not a great pass blocking TE.

 

4) Mike Ditka, Bears (1961-66), Eagles (’67-68), Cowboys (’69-72)

Hall of Fame, Class of 1988
2-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler
Super Bowl VI champion (Cowboys)
427 catches for 5,812 yards (13.6 ypc) and 43 TDs

Ditka posted 56 catches for 1,076 yards (19.2 ypc) and 12 TDs as a rookie. The first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame also caught a TD from Roger Staubach in Super Bowl VI. Check out the top sports betting sites for betting on the NFL.

3) John Mackey, Colts (1963-71), Chargers (’72)

Hall of Fame, Class of 1992
3-time first-team All-Pro
5-time Pro Bowler
331 catches for 5,236 yards (15.8 ypc) and 38 TDs
19 rushes for 127 yards (6.7 ypc)

A big-play threat who revolutionized the position, Mackey supporters can make a strong case that he is the best ever.

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2) Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs (1997-2008), Falcons (’09-13)

6-time first-team All-Pro
14-time Pro Bowler
1,325 catches for 15,127 yards (11.5 ypc) and 111 TDs

Gonzalez holds almost every NFL record for tight ends. He was the greatest pass-catching tight end ever and was a good enough blocker.

1) Rob Gronkowski

Ok, Gronk just retired so this was a late addition but Gronk could go deep as good as anyone when he was younger. When he got older he could still make plays catching the ball but look at the Patriots win over the Super Bowl, a lot of that win was because of Gronk’s ability to get dirty and block.

 

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