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What is a ‘Tight End’ in football? All you need to know about Travis Kelce’s position

Some of the greatest players in NFL history have been tight ends - including eight-time Pro Bowler Travis Kelce. Let’s look at what a tight end is and why they are so important.

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From Rob Gronkowski to Mike Ditka to Travis Kelce... the tight end is both a glamorous position and one that carries with it a great deal of pressure. Yet, it’s often one that is misunderstood and with that, we’d like to clear the air on all that’s involved.

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Why is it called Tight End?

The name is actually related to the position in the offensive line, that the player maintains beside the tackle on the line of scrimmage. The term “tight,” originates from the close proximity to the offensive line that the hold, as well as the fact that the line up at the end of the line, hence the term “tight end.”

What is the Tight End in the NFL?

What is the tight end? Is it a wide receiver? Is it a linebacker? We forgive you if you’re not sure, but one thing that is certain is that it’s one of the most important positions in the modern game. What’s more, is that it’s a position that requires the player in question to possess multiple skill sets from multiple positions, even those of the running back as well. Indeed, it’s a position that often supports the quarterback as a receiver when no targets are free. Yet, the tight end can also be responsible for leading the block in the same fashion as a fullback. So, what in the world is a tight end?

In principle, the tight end is responsible for two things primarily - to catch passes from the quarterback and block for the running backs. In other words, the tight end is a combination between a wide receiver and an offensive linesman. In reality, the tight end actually qualifies as one of the offensive linemen positions if we go with the traditional definition.

As such, the tight end can often be seen demonstrating the attributes of the tackle’s position i.e., blocking and pulling defensive players during screens, traps, and sweep. On the other hand, they can also be seen making cuts to the outside where they receive passes as would a wide receiver. If it’s not clear enough, we’re talking about a guy who needs to be strong enough to block, but also athletic enough to create space AND sharp enough to catch a pass.

Ultimately, despite the glamor associated with the quarterback, or the athletic appreciation given to the running back, the tight end is arguably the player of whom the most is asked on a football field.

Who are the best Tight Ends?

Though we’re sure there will be those who disagree and those who don’t, here’s our take on some of the best TEs to have played the game of football:

Rob Gronkowski

Mike Ditka

Antonio Gates

Travis Kelce