- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Hall of Fame status: inducted 1995
8. Antonio Gates, Chargers, 2003--present
No tight end has ever been on a touchdown pace like Gates (64 TD catches in the last 6½ years, with a TD in nine straight games through Oct. 10). The 6' 4", 260-pound Gates boxes out as if he were still playing power forward at Kent State.
Hall of Fame status: not yet eligible
9. Mark Bavaro, Giants, Browns, Eagles 1985--94
Historically underrated, Bavaro was the Ditka of his day—Bill Walsh once called him the game's premier tight end. In 1986 the devastating blocker made one of the most memorable plays ever by a tight end, dragging seven 49ers, including Ronnie Lott, as far as 20 yards after making a catch.
Hall of Fame status: never a finalist
10. Dallas Clark, Colts, 2003--present
A tough call over Charlie Sanders, Jay Novacek and Todd Christensen. But the player called the AFC champion's MVP after catching 100 passes in 2009 is the first tight end of note to play the same position as Wes Welker—slot receiver—as well as traditional tight end. He has averaged 5.8 catches a game since 2008.
Hall of Fame: not yet eligible