He made five Pro Bowls and was the main threat for the Patriots for most of the 1990s. In '94, Coates caught 96 passes for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns. A huge target, he used his speed and strength to keep defenders off him, and he was dangerous after the catch.
2 of 10Rick Stewart/Getty Images
From 1983 to '86 he caught 349 passes, an NFL record at the time. Christensen, who played on two Super Bowl-winning Raiders teams, was always there when the offense needed a big catch and was very valuable as a team leader.
3 of 10Peter Read Miller/SI
He was the epitome of toughness for the 1980s Giants. He would punish defensive backs who tried to tackle him in the open field and was a force as a blocker. The Giants were a run-first team, but Bavaro was a key weapon on third down and a big-play threat whom defenses had to account for.
4 of 10Damian Strohmeyer/SI
He has a chance to end his career as the most prolific pass-catching tight end in league history. He's had to deal with constant double-teaming and is often used as a decoy because defenses put so much energy into shutting him down. Gonzalez had 102 catches for 1,258 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2004.
5 of 10Andy Hayt/SI
His career was cut short by knee injuries, but when he was healthy, he was the most dominant pass-catching tight end of his time. He had 89 catches in 1980 and totaled 88 receptions in '81 and '83. Winslow wasn't forced to focus much on blocking, but his receiving skills more than made up for any shortcomings. He had one of the greatest performances in NFL history in San Diego's 41-38 overtime win over Miami in the 1981 AFC divisional playoffs.
6 of 10AP
He was the first true pass-catching tight end. His 75 catches in 1964 -- a 14-game season -- stood as a record for tight ends until 1980, when the NFL had a 16-game schedule. Ditka was fiercely competitive and didn't shirk his blocking duties to concentrate on receiving.
7 of 10Walter Iooss Jr./SI
He retired with 662 catches for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns -- unprecedented numbers for a tight end and good enough figures to put him at No. 4 on the all-time reception list. For years he was the most consistent threat on some good Browns teams, and he was an outstanding team leader.
8 of 10Walter Iooss Jr./SI
A converted tackle out of Notre Dame, he was a key part of the Raiders' dominant teams of the 1970s. "The Ghost" was an outstanding blocker who averaged a gaudy 13.8 yards per catch and was especially dangerous in the clutch, coming up with numerous game-winning TDs throughout his career.
9 of 10Brian Bahr/Getty Images
He has more catches (815) and receiving yards (10,060) than any other tight end in NFL history and was a key player on Super Bowl-winning Broncos and Ravens teams. Defenses had to account for him at all times because he was capable of turning a short catch into a big gain. He started his career as a receiver, but he didn't blossom until coach Mike Shanahan moved him to tight end.
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He was the first tight end to become a consistent big-play threat, and he was still very effective as a blocker. He doesn't have the numbers that modern tight ends have because teams didn't pass as often back then. Still, his speed and athleticism transformed the position and opened the door for the big-reception guys of today.
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