Travis Kelce has established himself as one of the greatest tight ends of all time, but where does he rank amongst the all-time greats?
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has already established himself as one of the best tight ends in the history of the NFL. At this point there is simply no reasonable argument to make for him not being in the top ten all-time for the position. Obviously the tight end position has evolved a lot over the years, and the NFL has moved towards a more pass happy-era, but in any decade, Kelce would have been a star.
Debating where a player ranks amongst the all-time greats at their position can be a very subjective thing. Can you make a case that guys like Kellen Winslow and Ozzie Newsome putting up the numbers they did in their era is as or more impressive than guys putting up similar or even more numbers today? Sure you can, but for today let’s stop and look at where Kelce ranks strictly from a numbers perspective when it comes to the all-time great tight ends. I did something similar two years ago, but Kelce has put up two more seasons of elite productions since then.
When we’re talking about the top tight ends from a statistics perspective, there is a clear top seven that Kelce within which has now cemented himself (in no particular order): Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Shannon Sharpe, Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Travis Kelce. Those seven tight ends are all in the top ten all time for tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, receiving yards per game, and touchdowns.
There are some other recent or current players like Vernon Davis, Greg Olsen, and Zach Ertz that are in the top ten in some areas, but outside it in others. So let’s take a look at the rankings for each of those areas for those seven players I listed that are in the top ten in each category plus Kellen Winslow and Ozzie Newsome since they are widely considered the most productive tight ends from before the modern pass-heavy era.
Tight End Receptions
- Tony Gonzalez – 1,325 (1st)
- Jason Witten – 1,228 (2nd)
- Antonio Gates – 955 (3rd)
- Shannon Sharpe – 808 (4th)
- Jimmy Graham – 713 (6th)
- Travis Kelce – 704 (7th)
- Ozzie Newsome – 662 (8th)
- Rob Gronkowski – 621 (10th)
- Kellen Winslow – 541 (16th)
Takeaways: If Travis Kelce has an average season for himself this coming season he will move into 5th place all time for tight end receptions and is probably only 2-3 seasons away from passing Shannon Sharp and Antonio Gates. That’s fantastic, but he is still only about halfway to Tony Gonzalez’s incredible career total. It’s also worth mentioning just how many receptions Jason Witten totaled in his long career. Kelce is still over 500 receptions away from Witten as well.
Now let’s look at the all time yardage leaders.