Rob Gronkowski (again) called it an NFL career on Tuesday, saying goodbye not only to Buccaneers but to football. Tom Brady will no doubt be left out in 2022, but so will fans who have seen Gronk steals titles on and off the pitch during his career. Where exactly is Gronkowski in the ranks of all-time players?
Let’s rank the top 10 TEs who have ever played the game and see where it fits:
10. Mike Ditka
Teams: Chicago Bears (1961-1966), Philadelphia Eagles (1967-1968), Dallas Cowboys (1969-1972)
Before making history as the Bears coach, Ditka showed his tenacity on the field. He never achieved his explosive newcomer of the year campaign, during which he reached the scene in 1961 with 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns, but within six years of teamwork, he began to resemble the Chicago brand. He also made an average of more yards per catch than most other great TEs in NFL history, effectively collecting 5,812 yards during his career.
9. Jason Witten
Teams: Dallas Cowboys (2003-2017, 2019), Las Vegas Raiders (2020)
Although he was never the fastest or most dynamic in his position, Witten quietly and consistently rewrote NFL record books, being perhaps the most trusted offensive player in Cowboys history. In the resilience model, his influence disappeared a little late in his career, but few players have ever been so consistent. Gray Lock, he was the fastest TE to reach 600 hits in his career and has a record of 235+ games.
8. Ozzie Newsome
Teams: Cleveland Browns (1978-1990)
Before taking his football IQ to the NFL, where he won two of the Baltimore Ravens’ two Super Bowls, he was at the Newsome TE both on and off the pitch. Apart from the efforts of his husband of the year and his team-based mentality, he was still one of the main goals of his position in the 1980s. Holder of several Brown records, he has recorded a few 1,000-yard seasons and ended his career with 47 TDs, the fifth highest in franchise history, while modeling endurance.
7. John Mackey
Teams: Baltimore Colts (1963-1971), San Diego Chargers (1972)
In the all-time rankings, Mackey’s numbers continue to be exceeded as more and more TEs are threatened, but when it comes to the all-time impact on the position, he is among the best among them. As a phenomenon of size and speed during his day, Mackey not only missed just one game during his 10-year career, he became just another pure TE who made it to the halls of fame. In the era that preceded today’s lush attacks, he had at least 400 bets taken for eight consecutive seasons and had 38 TD hits during his career.
6. Travis Kelce
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs (2013-present)
He has benefited from being successful in the NFL, and not only for that, but also for one of the most successful teams and coaches in the league. But he has always been MVP QB Patrick Mahomes’ most reliable point of sale. As an example of both resilience and production, he will enter 2022, scoring 80 yards and 1,000 assists in six consecutive seasons, and his career’s 70.8 percent hit proves how reliable his hands have been for the annual Super Bowl competitor.
5. Shannon Sharpe
Teams: Denver Broncos (1990-1999, 2002-2003), Baltimore Ravens (2000-2001)
Like the wide receiver, who played from a narrow end, Sharpe became the first player in his position to complete more than 10,000 yards in his career. With three Super Bowl laps and a pivotal role in all of these championships, he may have the closest thing to Gronkowski’s post-season sequel. Sharpe was productive until his retirement, recording at least 60 hits in nine of his last ten NFL seasons, and was one of the top bait catchers with three 1,000-yard campaigns.
4. Antonio Gates
Teams: San Diego / Los Angeles Chargers (2003-2018)
You could argue that he should be taller. Although the eight-time Pro Bowler did not necessarily make the position revolutionary and did not act as a nightmare for the absolute collusion of a la Gronk, he was about as consistent as they came. The former basketball player, who missed just 20 games in 16 years, was a safety valve in Chargers’ attack for most of his career, hitting at least 60 assists on nine different occasions and leading all NFL bottlenecks with 116 hits. .
3. Kellen Winslow
Teams: San Diego Chargers (1979-1987)
When Gronk redefined the TE position of his generation, Winslow defined it’s for him. Although most of the players in his position were used as additional blockers, he was a serious threat to Chargers’ Hall of Fame Dan Fouts and produced numbers that were unprecedented for TE at the time. Once called a “broad receiver in the body of the attacking lineman,” he played even fewer games than Gronk, but began 94 of his 109 trips, recording three 1,000-yard seasons far from being fed.
2. Rob Gronkowski
Teams: New England Patriots (2010-2018), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2020-2021)
This is not a recent prejudice. In fact, during his peak, Gronkowski may have been the scariest TE to ever enter the square. Not only was he 6 feet tall and almost 270 pounds, but he also played more physically and the speed that this frame would require, further inventing a position as a host threat in 2010, playing at its best when it was most important, and producing a gray summary of celebrities with more games than some of its all-time greats. Resilience has always been the biggest blow to Gronk. But even in nine injurious years, he became one of the best all-round players of his generation, with the best playoff stats of all TEs and perhaps the most effective stats, averaging TDs every 6.6 hits. His run may have been shorter, but it was always a treat, and his smooth reunion with Brady in Tampa helped bring Bucs to the Lombard trophy.
1. Tony Gonzalez
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs (1997-2008), Atlanta Falcons (2009-2013)
No one did it as well as Tony did long like Tony. The numbers alone don’t tell the story, but they don’t accidentally accumulate 1,300 crops and 15,000 yards. Gonzalez may not have been pretty The same physical freak as Gronkowski when it comes to matches, but he was a reliable definition, both in terms of durability and production. During the 17 seasons, he missed a total of two games and it is not as if he is easy to serve in addition to being available. His four 1,000-yard seasons, 11 consecutive seasons with at least 70 yards, 16 consecutive seasons with at least 600 yards and 14 Pro Bowl selections are all proof of his continued dominance. The real threat of landing at the end of his 30s is still the gold standard for his position.
To be honest, the top 10 list just doesn’t do justice to the biggest bottlenecks of all time. If you list the best people who have ever played in this position, these guys also deserve your recognition:
- Dave Casper: Oakland Raiders (1974-1980), Houston Oilers (1980-1983), Minnesota Vikings (1983), Los Angeles Raiders (1984)
- Jackie Smith: Louis Cardinals (1963-1977), Dallas Cowboys (1978)
- Charlie Sanders: Detroit Lions (1968-1977)
- Greg Olsen: Chicago Bears (2007-2010), Carolina Panthers (2011-2019), Seahawks (2020)
- Todd Christensen: Dallas Cowboys (1978), New York Giants (1979), Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders (1979-1988)
- Ben Coates: New England Patriots (1991-1999), Baltimore Ravens (2000)
- Jerry Smith: Washington Redskins (1965-1977)
- Keith Jackson: Philadelphia Eagles (1988-1991), Miami Dolphins (1992-1994), Green Bay Packers (1995-1996)
- Dallas Clark: Indianapolis Colts (2003–2011), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012), Baltimore Ravens (2013)
- Jimmy Graham: New Orleans Saints (2010–2014), Seattle Seahawks (2015–2017), Green Bay Packers (2018–2019), Chicago Bears (2020–2021)
- Riley Odoms: Denver Broncos (1972-1983)
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