The new head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs has a history with tight ends. Andy Reid was the tight ends’ coach in Green Bay and tight ends have had good success in his offenses in Philadelphia. Are the tight ends in Kansas City good enough to pick up their production and become integral parts of the offense in 2013?
While Reid was at Green Bay, the Packer tight end Mark Chmura had three Pro Bowl seasons, as di Chad Lewis playing under Reid in Philadelphia. L. J. Smith averaged 55.5 catches in 2005-2006 with the Eagles and Brent Celek has averaged over 59 receptions over the past four seasons with Philadelphia, including 76 in 2009. Obviously, Andy Reid likes to integrate the tight ends into his game plans and he knows how to get the ball into their hands.
The incumbent tight end is Tony Moeaki. He had off season surgery on his knee but is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. Moeaki has a reputation as an injury risk but when he has played, 2010 and in 2012, he has been productive. In those two seasons, he averaged 40 catches a year and 12.6 yards per reception. Those numbers were accumulated in an offense that seemed to ignore the tight ends much of the time.
The Chiefs signed the former Cowboy and Dolphin Anthony Fasano, who played the last five seasons in Miami and averaged over 35 catches a season with an 11.9 average yards per catch. While he doesn’t have the injury history of Moeaki, he hasn’t been a key target in his offenses most of his career. In 2012, he set a career high in catches with 41.
Enter third round draft pick Travis Kelce, a big, (6’5″, 255) athletic, pass catching tight end from Cincinnati. Kelce caught 45 passes in 2012 for 722 yards, including 8 grabs in the end zone for the Bearcats. Kelce has a chance to make an immediate impact on the passing game as did Moeaki in his rookie year back in 2010. Unlike Moeaki’s rookie year, the Chiefs will have other options and they can develop Kelce at a better pace, especially as a blocker. SI.com offered this scouting report on Travis Kelce:
Kelce is a solid blocker as he shows the strength to move players off the line and re-direct them, but he needs to become a more physical blocker especially off the snap in order to gain better leverage. He turns his hips well and has very good hand use in pass pro. His ability to get to the 2nd level is poor as he does not have the quickness to get there in time to make a block on linebacker. He has strong hands to rip the ball out of the defenders hands and make the contested catch. He has very good ball skills and shows good awareness and reaction to where the ball is thrown. He catches with his hand, tucks the ball away quickly, gets started up the field fast and is a good runner after the catch. Overall, Kelce will need to become much stronger and much more physical at the LOS in order to be a good all-around tight end. However, he has the receiving skills to be productive catching passes early in his career.
The Chiefs have three solid options at the tight end position. They should be able to mix and match Moeaki, Fasano, and Kelce in both their running game and passing game,according to match-ups and game plans. If Kelce develops his blocking skills quickly, and stays out of trouble off the field, and Tony Moeaki can get and stay healthy, then the tight end position should be a real strength for the Chiefs in 2013. There is much more talent and depth at tight end already on the roster than Kansas City has had there over the past several years, since Tony Gonzalez left. Hopefully, these tight ends can have the success other tight ends have enjoyed under Andy Reid’s tutelage.
For a great look at Reid’s history with tight ends, read Pro Football Weekly’s Herbie Teope’s excellent rundown here.