Publish Date: 04/16/2016
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
There aren’t many who would disagree that Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game today, but could he end up being the best ever? He has shown is incredible play-making ability and is paired up with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. If Tom Brady plays another four seasons, Gronkowski will likely have hall of fame numbers in just ten seasons.
Rob Gronkowski was drafted out of Arizona in the second round with the 42nd pick, by the New England Patriots. He was the second tight end taken in the draft behind Jermaine Gresham, who was drafted by the Bengals in the first round. Coming out of the draft Rob was recognized highly by scouts for his great hands and ability to get open in man coverage. His size and speed also fit the prototypical tight end position. The only concerns coming out of the draft was his ability to stay healthy. Since being drafted, Gronk has had trouble with injuries missing 16 total games in his first 6 seasons with the Patriots. Even though he has missed an entire season all together, he has posted incredible stats and has shown that he should have been the first tight end picked in the 2010 draft.
What Gronk brings to the table for the Patriots is his raw talent and skill that make him virtually impossible for teams to cover. He causes a mismatch for any player who tries to cover him and often is double covered. Standing at 6’6”, he has great size, being able to often catch passes over defenders and has a surprising amount of speed for his size. Gronk’s hands also represent his height, measuring at 10 ¾ inches which seem to drop nothing Brady throws his way. His wide receiver-type ability compares him to some of the other great tight ends in the NFL Hall of Fame and some soon to be there.
Gronk’s skill and career stats already will get him into the hall of fame. Only at six seasons in the NFL, he has posted some ridiculous stats and he isn’t even close to being finished with his work. So far in Gronkowski’s career, he has 380 receptions, 5,555 receiving yards, and 65 touchdown receptions. He also was the fastest tight end to reach 60 touchdowns, doing it in just 70 games. When you consider the 16 games he has missed, those stats are even more mind-boggling.
In the 80 games he has played in, he averages just less than 70 yards receiving per game and almost a touchdown per game. To get even more in depth, Gronk averages about five receptions per game, at least one catch of twenty or more yards, and at least three first downs for the Patriots per game. A defensive coordinator has his work cut out for him preparing to go against this monster paired along with Brady, Edelman, and for this season the newly acquired Martellus Bennett from the Bears. Bennett and Gronk should benefit each other, especially in the red zone. Teams will now have to worry about two towering tight ends and should take pressure of Gronkowski, as he is considered to be one of the top red zone threats in the NFL. From the 15 yard line, he kills teams with a simple seam route up the middle. Inside the five, just line him up outside at wide receiver and throw him a fade route where he is likely to catch the ball over the defender.
Through Gronkowski’s six seasons, he has worked his way up the leader boards and is only behind Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates on the all time touchdown list for tight ends. Gonzalez stands at the top for now with 111, followed by Gates (who is still playing) with 104, and the trailing Gronkowski, who has 65 touchdowns. Although he has awhile to go, he averages over ten touchdowns a season and if the stays healthy, he could catch up pretty quickly.
Tony Gonzalez, a future Hall of Famer, compares the best to Gronk. During his prime, Gonzalez was a very hard player to stop and he now holds records for most touchdowns, most receptions, and most yards by a tight end. With the pace Gronk is playing at, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to break these records, since he plays with one of the best quarterbacks ever. If he can keep his averages per season and stay healthy, he would put a big Gronk spike on the touchdown record with 175 and pass him up in receiving yards as well with 15,730. In comparison to both of their first 6 seasons, Gronkowski has played 15 less games, but has better stats in the touchdown and yards category posting 5,555 yards to Gonzalez’s 4,731 and 65 touchdowns to Tony’s 37. Gronk also only had 11 less receptions then Tony did in six seasons. These stats are astonishing because Gonzalez is considered to be the best tight end to ever play the game. With 15 less games played, stats better then Tony’s, and Tom Brady as his quarterback, there is no reason why he can’t break these records.
Also to Gronkowski’s name is four Pro Bowl selections, three First Team All-Pro Awards, and one Super Bowl ring. He has been in two Super Bowls, losing one to the Giants and winning the other in Super Bowl 49 against the Seahawks. The Patriots are always at the top in the AFC, giving Gronk a chance at more Super Bowl wins. He also holds the record for the most touchdown receptions in a season by a tight end with 17. Many people also had Gronkowski in the MVP race over the last two seasons because of what he brings to the Patriots and how much trouble they have without him on the field. With a healthy and a big season, he could possibly win the MVP award and if he did, he would be the first tight end to do it.
All in all, Gronkowski has had a great NFL career so far. He holds the record for most touchdown receptions in a season by a tight end and was the fastest tight end to reach 60 touchdowns. He is on pace to possibly break many records at the tight end position as well. If he can stay healthy, Gronk will go down in history as the best tight end ever to play the position.