Our look at the top Denver Broncos tight ends includes ten players who have performed to a high standard in this vital role. We’ve taken a look at the tight ends who’ve spent their full pro careers here, as well as those who have stayed in Denver for a relatively short time but had a huge impact.
Clever strategies that make good use of the tight end role have played a big part in the success that Denver has had over the years. But who are the players who have been strong, quick, and well-balanced enough for this position?
Best Broncos Tight Ends of All Time
Finding the ten top tight ends for Denver Broncos fans isn’t easy. While some names are impossible to leave out, others came close to making it onto our list but just missed out. We’ve narrowed it down to the best tight ends that have consistently made big moments in important games.
With some of the best tight ends in NFL history playing for the Broncos at different points, have a look at the ten we’ve chosen to see if you agree with our selections or if you would change some of them.
Shannon Sharpe spent 14 years in the NFL after joining the Broncos in the 1990 NFL draft. He had excelled with Savannah State University but most pro teams seemed unsure how well we would handle the pro league. This meant that the Broncos could select him as the 192nd pick in the seventh round.
A couple of average seasons as a receiver were followed by a spectacular period when Shannon was moved to tight end and became one of the NFL’s greatest ever players in this role. He was the first tight end to rack up more than 10,000 receiving yards and is still high on the list of NFL records in many different categories. He stayed in Denver until moving to the Baltimore Ravens in 1999, but then returned to Denver a couple of years later.
Among his greatest triumphs, Sharpe won the Super Bowl on three occasions. Two of those wins came with the Broncos and the other during his period with the Ravens. With all the physical attributes needed to be a top-class tight end together with an easy-going personality, he has proved to be one of the Broncos most popular and important players of all time.
— Old Time Football 🏈 (@Ol_TimeFootball) July 29, 2023
Playing at a time when tight ends perhaps weren’t as high profile as they are now, Riley Odoms could be regarded as a pioneer in the position. He attended the University of Houston before joining the Broncos in the 1972 draft.
His college career was fairly unremarkable until he caught the eye in 1971 by making 45 catches for a total 730 yards and 8 TDs. This led to Denver setting their sights on him and as fifth overall pick, he remains one of the earliest tight end picks in draft history. In fact, Riley was still tied as the highest all-time pick in this position until Kyle Pitts was selected as fourth choice in the 2021 draft.
Riley spent all of his 12-year pro career with Denver, completing 41 receiving TDs and 5,755 yards with 396 receptions. As the leading receiver in the team for several seasons, he was important in the franchise’s success during this time. He was part of the team lost in Super Bowl XII to the Dallas Cowboys and was selected for the Pro Bowl four times as well as twice being named as an All-Pro.
— DenverBroncos QBClub (@BroncosQBClub) March 6, 2019
Hailing from California, Julius Thomas played football and basketball for Portland State. While he set some impressive school records for the basketball team, he became an NFL player when the Broncos selected him in the fourth round of the draft in 2011.
Julius was only the 129th pick and he was held back by a number of injuries in his rookie season. However, he started the 2013 season in style by scoring his first and second touchdown in the opening game against the Baltimore Ravens and grabbed five catches for 110 yards. He carried on posting great numbers for the rest of the season to reach a franchise record for a tight end with 12 touchdowns.
His athleticism and strength made Thomas a great partner for quarterback Peyton Manning but he left Denver in 2015. After a couple of years with other franchises, he surprised the football world by retiring to study for a doctorate in clinical psychology.
The 2013 #Broncos receiving core racked up some nice stats with Peyton Manning throwing to them…
Demaryius Thomas – 92 catches, 1,430 yards, 14 TDs
Eric Decker – 87 catches, 1,288 yards, 11 TDs
Julius Thomas – 65 catches, 788 yards, 12 TDs
Wes Welker – 73 catches, 778 yards,… pic.twitter.com/zhtS94ZmKL
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) April 7, 2023
Born in Michigan, Tony Schleffer went to Western Michigan University and made 117 receptions with 13 touchdowns and a total of 1,345 yards. This made him the second in the all-time list of the college’s tight ends and led to Denver picking him in the second round of the draft in 2006.
After a slow start to his career as a Bronco, Tony formed a strong partnership with quarterback Jay Cutler. In 2010, he was traded to the Detroit Lions, where he stayed until 2013. Shortly after leaving Detroit, Scheffler retired from the sport and said that the number of concussions he’s suffered in his playing was to blame for his retirement after just eight NFL seasons.
Overall, he scored 22 receiving touchdowns and made 3,207 receiving yards with 258 receptions during his time in the NFL. Had he stayed with the Broncos for longer, Tony might have made it to a higher spot in this list of the best Denver Broncos tight ends.
Owen Daniels attended the University of Wisconsin and started as a quarterback, as well as being a stand-out at various other sports. He had moved to tight end by the last two seasons he spent in Wisconsin and established himself as a good prospect in the position.
In the 2006 draft, Owen was chosen in the fourth round by the Houston Texans. After a year at the Baltimore Ravens, he followed coach Gary Kubiak to Denver. It took some time for him to make his mark here, but soon Daniels was an important part of the team.
He scored two touchdowns in the 2015 AFC Championship game and was part of the team that won Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers. This was his only season in Denver, as he retired from the sport afterwards.
Born in Michigan, Ron Egloff played basketball and football at high before concentrating on football at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The 1977 draft was a disappointment for him, as he went undrafted. However, Ron was given the chance to try out with the Broncos and impressed enough to earn a deal.
His rookie year in 1977-78 saw Ron win the AFC Championship and play in Super Bowl XII, where Denver lost to the Cowboys. Egloff stayed with Denver until 1983 and then had a short spell with the San Diego Chargers before retiring from the game.
His overall NFL stats show four touchdowns from 105 games, with 75 receptions where reached 839 receiving yards. More recently, he’s been in the news for helping raise the subject of brain studies on former players and has reportedly agreed to donate his brain for CTE research upon his death.
Billy Masters was born in Louisiana and it was as Louisiana State University that he played his college football. He later said that the college had recruited him for both basketball and football, but he chose football because he felt that he wasn’t tall enough to make a pro career at basketball.
His move into the pro league came with the 1967 draft, when the Kansas Chiefs chose him as the 77th overall pick in the third round. However, he never played a regular season game for them as the Buffalo Bills managed to put together a trade for him to move there
He joined the Broncos in 1970 and stayed for four years before moving to the Kansas City Chiefs for the end of his career. With 132 career games, Billy made 169 receptions for 2,268 yards and 15 TDs.
A college career for the Kentucky Wildcats was followed by a move to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2008 draft. After that, Jacob Tamme joined the Denver Broncos in 2012. Teaming up with Peyton Manning again helped him to recover the good numbers he’d posted early in his time with the Colts.
He ended with 555 receiving yards and 2 TDs from 52 receptions in his first season with the Broncos. His next season in Denver saw the team score more than 600 points and he joined in with a couple of TDs and 184 receiving yards. Jacob scored a touchdown in the AFC Championship win where they beat the Patriots, but the Broncos lost the Super Bowl game to the Seahawks.
Tamme joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 but injury sped up his retirement, which came at the end of 2017.
Orson Mobley was born in Florida and played both basketball and football at Florida State University. He then transferred to Salem. His move to the pro league came when the Denver Broncos chose him as the 151st overall pick during the sixth round of the NFL draft in 1986.
His five-season stay in Denver included three Super Bowls, which is why he is one of our ttop ight ends for Denver Broncos in the past. All three of these games (Super Bowl XXI, XXII, and XXIV) ended in a loss for the Broncos. His rookie season was his most impressive in terms of numbers, with 22 passes and an average of 15.1 yards on each reception.
Despite being in three Super Bowl-losing teams, Orson has earned his place in the Denver Broncos tight ends history by helping them to reach this stage of the postseason several times.
South Carolina-born Clarence Kay played as a tight end for the University of Georgia. His move to the NFL occurred when the Broncos chose him during the seventh round of the 1984 draft.
Clarence played for Denver during all nine of his seasons in the NFL. His first season as a pro saw him named in the PFWA All-Rookie Team. After overcoming personal problems, he became a key part of the Denver team that made it to the Super Bowls XXI, XXII, and XXIV without being able to win the NFL title.
Kay’s overall pro stats reveal a total of 13 TDs, with 2,136 receiving yards from 193 receptions. He was perhaps unlucky to play for Denver at a time when they were unable to win their first Super Bowl, but he played a big part in them getting to this game in the first place.