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The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

Updated April 16, 2020 96.4k votes 16.0k voters 199.0k views87 items

List RulesOnly 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

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  • 1
    Kellen Winslow is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    2,472
    1,287

    Kellen Winslow

    San Diego Chargers

    BirthplaceSt. Louis, Missouri

    Age62

  • 2
    Rob Gronkowski is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    6,255
    3,654

    Rob Gronkowski

    New England Patriots

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceAmherst, New York

    Age31

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  • 3
    Antonio Gates is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    3,692
    2,162

    Antonio Gates

    San Diego Chargers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, United States of America

    Age40

    More Antonio Gates 

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  • 4
    Shannon Sharpe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    3,541
    2,072

    Shannon Sharpe

    Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Age52

  • 5
    Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    4,660
    2,907

    Tony Gonzalez

    Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceUSA, California, Torrance

    Age44

  • 6
    Travis Kelce is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,524
    634

    Travis Kelce

    Kansas City Chiefs

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceCleveland Heights, Ohio

    Age31

  • 7
    Jason Witten is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    3,535
    2,097

    Jason Witten

    Dallas Cowboys

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceElizabethton, Tennessee, United States of America

    Age38

    More Jason Witten 

    #128 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#4 of 48 The Best University of Tennessee Football Players Ever

  • 8
    Mike Ditka is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    2,278
    1,414

    Mike Ditka

    Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceUSA, Carnegie, Pennsylvania

    Age80

    More Mike Ditka 

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  • 9
    Ozzie Newsome is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,645
    1,117

    Ozzie Newsome

    Cleveland Browns

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceMuscle Shoals, Alabama, United States of America

    Age64

  • 10
    Greg Olsen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,584
    961

    Greg Olsen

    Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceWayne, New Jersey

    Age35

  • 11
    John Mackey is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,324
    1,030

    John Mackey

    Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    AgeDied at 70 (1941-2011)

    More John Mackey 

    #25 of 35 Undeserving Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame#5 of 26 The Best NFL Tight Ends of the '70s

  • 12
    Dallas Clark is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,002
    796

    Dallas Clark

    Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceSioux Falls, South Dakota

    Age41

  • 13
    Dave Casper is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,250
    1,029

    Dave Casper

    Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers

    PositionTight end, Wide receiver

    BirthplaceBemidji, Minnesota

    Age69

  • 14
    Ben Coates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    943
    764

    Ben Coates

    New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceGreenwood, South Carolina

    Age51

  • 15
    Mark Bavaro is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    956
    786

    Mark Bavaro

    Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceWinthrop, Massachusetts

    Age57

  • 16
    Zach Ertz is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    592
    253

    Zach Ertz

    Philadelphia Eagles

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceOrange, California

    Age29

  • 17
    George Kittle is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    356
    90

    George Kittle

    San Franscisco 49ers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceMadison, Wisconsin

    Age26

  • 18
    Vernon Davis is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    973
    801

    Vernon Davis

    San Francisco 49ers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C.

    Age36

  • 19
    Jimmy Graham is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    1,656
    1,560

    Jimmy Graham

    New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceGoldsboro, North Carolina

    Age33

  • 20
    Heath Miller is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    771
    650

    Heath Miller

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceRichlands, Virginia, United States of America

    Age37

  • 21
    Jay Novacek is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    968
    900

    Jay Novacek

    Phoenix Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceMartin, South Dakota, United States of America

    Age57

  • 22
    Jeremy Shockey is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    794
    752

    Jeremy Shockey

    New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceAda, Oklahoma

    Age40

    More Jeremy Shockey 

    #15 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time#7 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

  • 23
    Todd Christensen is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    676
    721

    Todd Christensen

    Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

    PositionFullback, Tight end

    BirthplaceBellefonte, Pennsylvania

    AgeDec. at 57 (1956-2013)

  • 24
    Benjamin Watson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    355
    314

    Benjamin Watson

    New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceVirginia

    Age39

  • 25
    Kyle Rudolph is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time
    364
    291

    Kyle Rudolph

    Minnesota Vikings

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceCincinnati, Ohio

    Age30

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