The Next Era
Shannon Sharpe was drafted in 1990 by the Denver Broncos, and standing 6’2″ 228 pounds the giant was a matchup nightmare. Defenses had a hard time covering tight ends because they didn’t know how to play them at first. If they put a corner or a safety on them, they had 25-30 pounds and 3-5 inches on them too.
Sharpe was really the first receiving tight end that wasn’t looked at as a blocker but rather a fifth receiver. In his prime, Sharpe was unstoppable because of his athletic ability.
He ended his career with 815 receptions with 10,060 yards for a 12.3 average and back-to-back Super Bowl wins. He also had 400 first down catches (first logged in 1994) and had a 65.7 catching percentage (first logged in 1992).
Even more impressive is his 61 touchdown catches. Eventually retiring in 2003, he leapfrogged the modern tight end into the spotlight and paved the way for all future tight ends.