The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

Over 17.4K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
Voting Rules
Only NFL tight ends. No wide receivers or college players.
Latest additions: Kyle Pitts, Dallas Goedert, Darren Waller
Most divisive: Keith Jackson

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

Ranked by
  • Rob Gronkowski
    New England Patriots
    11,558 votes
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: Amherst, New York
    • Age: 34

    Rob Gronkowski, often dubbed the "Gronk," possessed a rare blend of size and athleticism that allowed him to dominate the gridiron like few tight ends of his time. A nightmare matchup for defensive coordinators, he had an uncanny ability to power through tackles, making him nearly impossible to bring down in the open field. Off the field, he was also a larger-than-life personality that captured the hearts of fans around the league, adding a new level of charisma to the sport.

  • Tony Gonzalez
    Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs
    9,440 votes
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: Torrance, California
    • Age: 47

    Throughout his illustrious career, Tony Gonzalez redefined the role of a tight end in the NFL with an impeccable combination of speed, athleticism, and hands, becoming an undeniable force on the field. As the most tenacious route-runner of his generation, he could outsmart defenders and find space even amidst tight coverage, resulting in numerous game-changing plays. Often regarded as the epitome of sustained excellence, Gonzalez's impact on the sport is immeasurable, having inspired an entire generation of tight ends to follow in his footsteps.

  • Darren Waller
    #89 needs votes
    Oakland Raiders
    73 votes
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: Landover, Maryland, USA
    • Age: 31
  • Antonio Gates
    San Diego Chargers
    7,363 votes
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA
    • Age: 43

    Antonio Gates, known for his basketball roots, was able to translate his extraordinary athletic gifts to the gridiron, fundamentally altering the perception of tight ends within the NFL. With his unique ability to out-leap and out-muscle defenders, he became a formidable red zone target and an absolute matchup nightmare for opposing teams. Gates' career serves as a testament to the importance of adaptability and continuous evolution in professional football, having left an indelible mark on the sport.

  • Travis Kelce

    Travis Kelce

    Kansas City Chiefs
    3,226 votes
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: Westlake, Ohio, USA
    • Age: 33

    Travis Kelce’s versatility, quickness off the line, and innate ability to separate from defenders has made him a household name in the world of professional football. His uncanny knack for finding soft spots even in the most ruthless defenses has resulted in a multitude of spectacular plays and countless crucial moments. With a sophisticated arsenal of techniques and deceptive route-running skills, Kelce continues to be a genuine game-changer that demonstrates just how vital a true playmaking tight end can be.

  • Kellen Winslow
    San Diego Chargers
    5,188 votes
    • Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri
    • Age: 65

    Kellen Winslow emerged as a trailblazer at the tight end position, bringing a level of speed, agility, and intelligence to the role that hadn't been seen before. His willingness to engage with defenders and ability to stretch the field made him virtually unstoppable, forcing defenses to rethink their strategies when facing him. As a pioneer in the world of football, Winslow's innovative approach to the tight end position has left a profound influence on the sport and future generations of players.

  • Shannon Sharpe
    Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens
    6,967 votes
    • Position: Tight end
    • Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois
    • Age: 55

    Shannon Sharpe was a force to be reckoned with, boasting an imposing combination of size, speed, and agility that allowed him to create significant mismatches against defenders. His seemingly effortless ability to outrun linebackers and outmaneuver safeties was nothing short of extraordinary. Sharpe's aggressive blocking and relentless work ethic set a new standard for tight ends, ensuring his legacy as one of the all-time greats at his position.