The Tight End position has gone through the most changes of any position on the football field during NFL History. This article will rank the Top 10 Tight Ends of all time as a list and the reason they place where they place.
10. Dave Casper
Dave Casper was first team all pro four consecutive seasons from 1976-1979. Casper was one of the first deep threats at the tight end position with the Oakland Raiders during their dominating stretch during the 1970s.
Casper totaled 5,216 career receiving yards and 52 career touchdowns during an era where the passing game wasn’t what it is today and the tight ends position wasn’t used as much in the receiving game.
Overall, Dave Casper was one of, if not the best, tight end during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Casper also helped the Raiders win two Super Bowls during his career.
9. Antonino Gates
Antonino Gates was one of the greatest red zone threats in the history of the NFL. He is seventh all time in career receiving touchdowns with 116, which also ranks first amongst tight ends.
Gates was a freak athlete that could run every route, as well as using his basketball background to box out his opponents which is one of the reasons he was such a dangerous red zone threat.
Gates was selected as a first team all pro three consecutive times from 2004 to 2006. Gates’ longevity is also another reason he ranks this high as he played 236 career games.
8. Ozzie Newsome
The original route specialist from the tight end position, Newsome held the NFL record for catches and yards by a tight end before a number of people ranked higher than him broke those records.
Despite playing in a non-pass happy era he still ranks 9th all time in receiving yards by a tight end. He also had some of the softest hands ever at the position, which he used to reel in 662 career receptions, which also ranks 9th all time.
Newsome is often forgotten about due to him playing in Cleveland, but rest assured, any list would be incomplete without Ozzie Newsome.
7. Mike Ditka
Without a doubt Mike Ditka revolutionized the position like no one else due to his physicality and speed, which had never been seen at the position at the time. Ditka was one of the first tight ends ever to be used as a primary receiver in a team’s offense.
Ditka became the first tight end ever to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season in 1961 as a rookie. He was twice selected as a first team all pro in 1963 and 1964.
The reason Ditka doesn’t rank higher is due to his short prime. Only three or four times he was the best tight end in the NFL at the time, and the man that surpassed him will be higher on the list.
6. Shannon Sharpe
Shannon Sharpe was the player that first broke Ozzie Smith’s record for career yards and receptions. He became the first tight end ever to totalled 10,000 career receiving yards and still ranks 5th all time amongst tight ends.
Sharpe was selected as a first team all pro four times in his career and helped the Broncos win Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. Sharpe would also join the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 helping them win Super Bowl XXXV.
One of the fastest and most agile tight ends ever, Sharpe separated himself from the rest during his era. When you add in his postseason success Sharpe easily fits in at the sixth best tight end of all time.