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Rob Gronkowski is rewriting the NFL history books

Gronkowski is hauling in touchdowns at a pace beyond any tight end in NFL history.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski has more touchdowns in his NFL career than games started for the New England Patriots. Still only 26, the sixth-year tight end has 58 touchdowns in 68 career games, 57 of which he started.

Just five tight ends in NFL history have more touchdown receptions than Gronkowski, including Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys, who is just one touchdown ahead of the Patriots star, despite 195 career games, 127 more than Gronkowski.

Given his current pace, Gronkowksi would seem to be a shoo-in to reach 100 career touchdowns, a mark that only eight players have ever reached. Not long after reaching that mark, he could challenge Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdowns of all-time by a tight end.

Player TDs Games
Tony Gonzalez 111 270
Antonio Gates 99 179
Shannon Sharpe 62 204
Jerry Smith 60 168
Jason Witten 59 195
Rob Gronkowski 58 68
Vernon Davis 55 136
Wesley Walls 54 196

Part of greatness is longevity, though. Many players could have reached elite marks and rewrote the history books, but couldn't get there because of injuries and attrition.

Gronkowksi plays like the Terminator, and that's a large factor in the tight end missing 15 games in the last three seasons with major forearm and knee injuries. He also suffered a back injury in college that cost him his entire junior season at Arizona in 2009. His tenacity and toughness is also a big reason why he's one of the most impossible players in the NFL to stop.

As long as Gronkowski keeps grabbing touchdowns at a pace rivaling Randy Moss' time with the Minnesota Vikings when the receiver caught 90 touchdowns in his first seven seasons, it won't take nearly as much time as it took Gonzalez to reach 100.

Antonio Gates still has a very real chance at breaking the record first and extending it to a number that could be tough for Gronkowski to catch. At 35, the end is on the horizon for Gates, but he's only 12 touchdowns behind Gonzalez.

Gronkowski is already beyond the pace of Gates and Gonzalez through six seasons and his sixth year is just getting started. In the first three games of 2015, Gronkowski already has four touchdowns and will almost certainly push that total much higher.

Injuries haven't slowed Gronkowski's historic pace yet and if he can keep it going for just a few more years, he'll be threatening the numbers of some of the all-time greats, a label Gronk is earning already.