Chiefs Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends

Brad Cottam, Mike Merritt, Jake O’Connell, Leonard Pope, Sean Ryan, Anthony Becht, Steve Maneri, Tony Moeaki, Kevin Boss, Anthony Fasano, Richard Gordon, Kevin Brock, Travis Kelce, Sean McGrath, Demetrius Harris… Did I miss anyone?

Let’s just say the curse of Tony Gonzalez is equally persistent to HPV.

Veteran Anthony Fasano was signed last offseason to solidify the tight end position, but injuries suffered in the early part of the season lingered most of the year. While never considered a huge receiving threat (career high 41 receptions in 2012), the former second round pick is a well-rounded player with exceptional blocking ability and makes for a solid red zone target. He just turned 30 in April and is entering the second of a four-year, $16 million contract.

In the eyes of one HisDirknesS, Fasano is been destined to prove that his signing was a mistake and will be forever linked to Martellus Bennett – the other “name” on the free agent market in 2013. For comparison’s sake, here are the numbers each player posted this year:

Fasano – 9 starts, 23 receptions, 200 yards, 3 TDs ($4M/season)
Bennett – 16 starts, 65 receptions, 759 yards, 5 TDs ($5.1M/season)

“Told ya so.” -Dirk

Kansas City also spent the 63rd overall pick in the 2013 draft on Travis Kelce from the University of Cincinnati… who didn’t play a single snap due to abdominal and micro fracture surgeries.

Andy Reid seemed somewhat keen on Kelce from the get-go; one has to wonder if that had something to do with drafting Travis’ older brother Jason in Philadelphia and watching him blossom from a sixth-round flier to one of the best centers in the NFL.

League-wide opinion on Travis’ future seems overwhelmingly positive… which makes me extremely nervous. This piece from our own personal Rick Ross (Joel Thorman) sheds some light on Kelce’s NFL journey thus far.

Other contributors include waiver-wire wonder Sean McGrath – who led Chiefs TE’s in receptions and yards in 2013 – and Kevin Brock, who was signed and cut umpteen thousand times throughout 2013 but is no longer in KC.

Former basketball player Demetrius Harris is the next in a long-line of fringe hopefuls aspiring to transition from power forward to tight end. He flashed some ability in training camp last season but clearly wasn’t ready for the NFL, eventually getting stashed on the practice squad. Early reports from OTA’s and minicamp have Harris up nearly 30 pounds with no loss of athleticism.

Here’s what we know:

Here’s what to expect: Fasano is likely overpaid but stands as the only real veteran in the group so I highly doubt he’s let go. We know next to nothing about Kelce other than the Chiefs invested rather heavily in him (63rd overall pick) just 15 months ago. Harris is the wildcard of the group, especially with that 6’7 frame that allows him to pluck the ball over most defenders. Then there’s McGrath – jack of all trades, master of none (as they say)… unless you count his stunning and glorious beard.

Andy Reid’s love for tight ends might rival his love of cheeseburgers, backup quarterbacks… err… you get the idea. Injuries plagued this unit in 2013 and really limited the team offensively.

Traditionally, tight ends are asked to do two things: help move the chains and score touchdowns, be it via blocking or receiving. Alex Smith needs a safety valve not named Jamaal Charles and in order for the Chiefs offense to take strides in year two, it requires a legitimate threat up the seam.

Prediction: all four TE’s make the 53-man roster

 

Previous installments of my Countdown to St Joe series are

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers

On the horizon:

July 12: Offensive Line
July 14: Defensive Line
July 16: Linebackers
July 18: Cornerbacks
July 20: Safeties
July 22: Kickers
July 24: Training Camp Begins

 

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