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16.0k voters

The Greatest Tight Ends Of All Time

Updated April 16, 2020 97.0k votes 16.0k voters 199.4k 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
    2,482
    1,322

    Kellen Winslow

    San Diego Chargers

    BirthplaceSt. Louis, Missouri

    Age62

  • 2
    Rob Gronkowski
    6,289
    3,674

    Rob Gronkowski

    New England Patriots

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceAmherst, New York

    Age31

    More Rob Gronkowski 

    #1691 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#150 of 170 The Best Hot Ones Guests Ever

  • 3
    Antonio Gates
    3,713
    2,176

    Antonio Gates

    San Diego Chargers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, United States of America

    Age40

    More Antonio Gates 

    #45 of 77 The Best Athletes Who Have Used Performance Enhancing Drugs#89 of 106 The Fastest NFL Players of All Time

  • 4
    Shannon Sharpe
    3,557
    2,086

    Shannon Sharpe

    Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Age52

    More Shannon Sharpe 

    #95 of 329 The Most Obnoxious Athletes#12 of 95 The Best Baltimore Ravens of All Time

  • 5
    Tony Gonzalez
    4,702
    2,914

    Tony Gonzalez

    Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceUSA, California, Torrance

    Age44

  • 6
    Travis Kelce
    1,539
    645

    Travis Kelce

    Kansas City Chiefs

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceCleveland Heights, Ohio

    Age31

  • 7
    Jason Witten
    3,556
    2,104

    Jason Witten

    Dallas Cowboys

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceElizabethton, Tennessee, United States of America

    Age38

    More Jason Witten 

    #126 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#65 of 67 The Best Sports Personalities on ESPN

  • 8
    Mike Ditka
    2,292
    1,418

    Mike Ditka

    Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceUSA, Carnegie, Pennsylvania

    Age80

    More Mike Ditka 

    #28 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#5 of 144 The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time

  • 9
    Ozzie Newsome
    1,651
    1,127

    Ozzie Newsome

    Cleveland Browns

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceMuscle Shoals, Alabama, United States of America

    Age64

    More Ozzie Newsome 

    #8 of 91 The Best Alabama Crimson Tide Football Players of All Time#12 of 57 The Best College Football Tight Ends of All Time

  • 10
    John Mackey
    1,332
    1,035

    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

  • 11
    Greg Olsen
    1,589
    969

    Greg Olsen

    Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceWayne, New Jersey

    Age35

  • 12
    Dallas Clark
    1,010
    803

    Dallas Clark

    Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceSioux Falls, South Dakota

    Age41

  • 13
    Dave Casper
    1,259
    1,034

    Dave Casper

    Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers

    PositionTight end, Wide receiver

    BirthplaceBemidji, Minnesota

    Age69

  • 14
    Ben Coates
    949
    768

    Ben Coates

    New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceGreenwood, South Carolina

    Age51

  • 15
    Mark Bavaro
    964
    792

    Mark Bavaro

    Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceWinthrop, Massachusetts

    Age57

  • 16
    Zach Ertz
    600
    260

    Zach Ertz

    Philadelphia Eagles

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceOrange, California

    Age29

  • 17
    George Kittle
    370
    96

    George Kittle

    San Franscisco 49ers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceMadison, Wisconsin

    Age26

  • 18
    Vernon Davis
    977
    807

    Vernon Davis

    San Francisco 49ers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C.

    Age36

  • 19
    Jimmy Graham
    1,665
    1,563

    Jimmy Graham

    New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceGoldsboro, North Carolina

    Age33

    More Jimmy Graham 

    #24 of 64 The Best Miami Football Players of All Time#13 of 34 The Most Overpaid Professional Athletes Right Now

  • 20
    Heath Miller
    773
    654

    Heath Miller

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceRichlands, Virginia, United States of America

    Age37

  • 21
    Jay Novacek
    974
    903

    Jay Novacek

    Phoenix Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceMartin, South Dakota, United States of America

    Age57

  • 22
    Jeremy Shockey
    796
    754

    Jeremy Shockey

    New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceAda, Oklahoma

    Age40

  • 23
    Todd Christensen
    683
    727

    Todd Christensen

    Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

    PositionFullback, Tight end

    BirthplaceBellefonte, Pennsylvania

    AgeDec. at 57 (1956-2013)

  • 24
    Kyle Rudolph
    368
    299

    Kyle Rudolph

    Minnesota Vikings

    PositionTight end

    BirthplaceCincinnati, Ohio

    Age30

  • 25
    Delanie Walker
    434
    418

    Delanie Walker

    Tennessee Titans

    PositionTight end

    BirthplacePomona, California

    Age36