9. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski , who turned 25 on May 14, was good as a rookie after the New England Patriots took him in the second round out of Arizona with the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.
What he was in 2011 was historic.
Gronkowski set a single-season receiving records for tight ends with 1,327 yards and 17 touchdown receptions in 2011, helping the Patriots reach the Super Bowl and earning All-Pro honors along the way.
Gronk led the NFL in TD receptions that season and was second with 18 total touchdowns (he scored one rushing TD).
He has been slowed by injuries, including a recurring forearm problem and a knee injury, playing just 18 games the last two seasons, but he’s still been productive with 94 receptions for 1,382 yards and 15 touchdown receptions over that span.
In just four seasons and 50 games, Gronkowski is tied for 18th all-time among tight ends with 42 touchdown catches, the only player in the all-time top 20 on that list to have played fewer than 109 games.
In fact, the 42 touchdown catches are the fourth-most all-time—regardless of position—for a player in his first four seasons. The three names directly ahead of him on the list either already enshrined in Canton or soon to be posed for a bust—Randy Moss (53), Jerry Rice (49) and Bob Hayes (45).