Tennessee football’s top five NFL TEs of all time

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These are the Tennessee football Volunteers tight ends who had the best pro careers.

Note: This is part of a series of posts looking back on Tennessee football players who had the best NFL careers at each position.

One position that has consistently evolved over time but somehow has never stopped being a huge part of the game is tight end. As Tennessee football has changed formations over the years, the Vols have found different ways to incorporate tight ends into their offense.

A mark of how UT has used tight ends has always been the program adapting to the type of tight ends they have. If the personnel calls for it, as it did on the 1998 national championship team, they may only use a tight end as an extra blocker. Other times, though, the tight end could be an integral part of the receiving game.

Both types of tight ends have left Tennessee football to enjoy great careers in the NFL. Even dating back to the single wing days under Robert Neyland, the Vols have had players designated as ends turn into great pro tight ends.

In this post, we’re going to rank the tight ends from Rocky Top who had the greatest careers in the NFL. Our focus will be on whether or not they played tight end in the pros, regardless of what position they may have played when they were at UT.

Multiple players actually had great pro careers at the position despite playing something more like a variation of the position in college. Others never wanted to even try playing tight end, but hindsight proved they made the right decision when they did.

While we will take into account receiving production, we should note that a tight end’s job is to be a solid blocker too. As a result, longevity will be huge here, as we can judge players by how much they contributed at this position without racking up stats.

All of these players had a unique combination of size, strength and athleticism that made them the mismatch for teams a tight end is supposed to be. How much of a mismatch were they? What was their value? Let’s break that down here. These are Tennessee football’s five tight ends who had the greatest NFL careers.

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