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The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated January 15, 2020 96.2k votes 15.4k voters 194.8k views 90 items

List Rules Only NFL tight ends. No wide receivers or college players.

The greatest tight ends of all time are those dynamic National Football League players who have played the position better than anyone else. The tight end position is a unique one as it has evolved from a blocking player to one that focuses more on receptions meaning each of these best NFL tight ends dominated the role as it was played during their prime.

There is a reason that the Mackey Award is given out each year to the top tight end in college football. That's because John Mackey is easily the best tight end ever to play football. The now Pro Football Hall of Fame member dominated the position with the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers and made the position one to recognize.

Following in Mackey's footsteps are dozens of other talented and famous tight ends such as Tony Gonzalez, the first tight end to catch over 1,000 passes, Kellen Winslow Sr. who dazzled at tight end for the San Diego Chargers, the great Mike Ditka, who before coaching or broadcasting averaged 19.2 yards per catch and notched 12 touchdowns as a rookie and Shannon Sharpe, who topped an amazing 10,000 yards over his career in Denver and Baltimore.

But the top tight ends in the NFL don't stop there. Young stars have taken the offensive position to an entire new level and fascinated fans everywhere along the way, racking up crazy stats and scoring touchdowns left and right. Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots is a perfect example of that as he has become the envy of other teams, fans and players with his talent.

Who do you think played the best at tight end of all time? Vote for your favorites, add any not listed or re-rank this list your way all below! Want more football rankings? Check out the greatest linebackers of all time and the greatest NFL punters of all time too! If you're a fantasy football player, head over and help decide the best fantasy football TEs of 2019

list ordered by
1
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Torrance, California, United States of America

Age: 42

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#19 of 350 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #47 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #2 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

2
Rob Gronkowski is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
New England Patriots

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Amherst, New York

Age: 29

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#189 of 350 People Who Should Be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame #2,067 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

3
Antonio Gates is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
San Diego Chargers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Age: 38

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#71 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #53 of 77 The Best Athletes Who Have Used Performance Enhancing Drugs #3 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

4
Shannon Sharpe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois

Age: 50

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#150 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #9 of 86 The Best Baltimore Ravens of All Time

5
Jason Witten is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Dallas Cowboys

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Elizabethton, Tennessee, United States of America

Age: 36

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#4 of 59 The Best University of Tennessee Football Players Ever #109 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #2 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

6
Kellen Winslow is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
7
Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Carnegie, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Age: 79

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#15 of 79 The Best NFL Player Nicknames #7 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

8
Ozzie Newsome is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Cleveland Browns

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA

Age: 62

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#171 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #2 of 25 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '80s

9
John Mackey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Age: Dec. at 70 (1941-2011)

More John Mackey 

#24 of 35 Undeserving Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame #4 of 26 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '70s

10
Dave Casper is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings

Position: Tight end, Wide receiver

Birthplace: Bemidji, Minnesota

Age: 67

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#135 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #18 of 80 The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time #12 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

11
Jimmy Graham is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
AhmadPoloswaggoutConteh added New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Goldsboro, North Carolina

Age: 32

12
Greg Olsen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Wayne, New Jersey

Age: 33

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#74 of 140 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time #3 of 33 The Best Tight Ends in the NFL

13
Travis Kelce is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Westlake, Ohio

Age: 30

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#496 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #103 of 145 The Best Hot Ones Guests Ever

14
Mark Bavaro is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Winthrop, Massachusetts

Age: 55

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#524 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #40 of 80 The Best Notre Dame Football Players of All Time

15
Ben Coates is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Greenwood, South Carolina

Age: 49

16
Dallas Clark is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Age: 39

17
Jay Novacek is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Phoenix Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Martin, South Dakota, United States of America

Age: 56

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#562 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #3 of 24 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '90s

18
Vernon Davis is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
San Francisco 49ers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Age: 35

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#342 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #71 of 111 The Greatest Washington Redskins of All Time #15 of 33 The Best Tight Ends in the NFL

19
Todd Christensen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Todd Christensen Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders

Position: Fullback, Tight end

Birthplace: Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Age: Dec. at 57 (1956-2013)

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#25 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Timelisted on College & Professional Athletes Who Were Raised Mormon

20
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Pittsburgh Steelers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Richlands, Virginia, United States of America

Age: 36

More Heath Miller 

#297 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #19 of 117 The Best Pittsburgh Steelers of All Time

21
Jeremy Shockey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Ada, Oklahoma

Age: 38

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#489 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #8 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time #14 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time

22
Jackie Smith is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
St. Louis Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Columbia, Mississippi

Age: 79

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#673 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #3 of 17 The Worst Super Bowl Plays of All Time

23
Keith Jackson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 53

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#11 of 95 The Best Oklahoma Sooners of All Time #8 of 24 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '90s

24
Zach Ertz is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Orange, California

Age: 28

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#4 of 49 The Best Stanford Football Players of All Time #2 of 33 The Best Tight Ends in the NFL

25
Brent Jones is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends of All Time
San Francisco 49ers

Position: Tight end

Birthplace: Santa Clara, California

Age: 56

More Brent Jones 

#737 of 1,556 The Best Football Players Ever #5 of 24 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '90s