Monday's episode of "The Top 100 Players of 2017" on NFL Network revealed the two highest-ranked tight ends: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23) and Travis Kelce (26). It's not uncommon to have these two mentioned in the same discussion -- in fact, Kelce has been referred to as "Baby Gronk" (though the Chiefs star bristles at the nickname). That said, they currently find themselves in very different situations heading toward the 2017 season.
At age 28, Gronk is coming off his ninth surgery since 2009 (this latest one being a back procedure). Multiple ailments limited the Patriots tight end to just eight games last season, and he posted career lows in catches (25), yards (540) and touchdowns (3). Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Kelce just enjoyed the best season of his NFL career, having earned first-team All-Pro honors after racking up 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns. And while he missed just about his entire rookie campaign due to a knee injury that necessitated microfracture surgery, Kelce has bounced back in a major way, playing in every Chiefs game over the past three seasons.
This would be a no-brainer if you could guarantee Gronk's long-term health. Since nobody can do that, expect Kelce to keep making his case as the best player at his position.