There I was, sitting in Radio City Music Hall trying to figure out why the Kansas City Chiefs hadn’t taken a nose tackle yet.
I had been on the job at Arrowhead Addict for about 3/12 months and I was attending my first ever NFL Draft as press. The Chiefs had already taken Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster and had just selected CB Javier Arenas with their second pick in the 2nd round. The pick that they got for future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez.
I was baffled. Why were the Chiefs taking a CB in the 2rd round? The Chiefs didn’t need a nickel CB as badly as they needed a nose tackle. I couldn’t figure it out.
The 3rd round rolled around and KC took guard Jon Asamoagh out of Illinois. I was even more confused. Yes, the Chiefs needed a replacement for Brian Waters but what about the bloody nose tackle?
Then suddenly the word got passed down that Kansas City had traded back into the end of the 3rd round. They had used one of their extra 5th rounders and their 4th to move up a few spots and snag someone.
“This is it,” I thought. “They’re going to get their nose tackle.”
Only they didn’t take a nose tackle. They took a tight end named Tony Moeaki.
More after the jump.
Tony Moeaki? A tight end? A TIGHT END!
I was even more confused. Pioli had traded up in 2009 to take Jake O’Connel who was a complete disaster. I couldn’t believe the Chiefs were wasting more picks on tight ends. Then the guy next to me informed me that Moeaki scouted well but had huge injury concerns.
“Great,” I thought. “Just great.”
Boy was I wrong.
The more I read about Moeaki, the more I liked the pick. Scouts loved him. He demonstrated very soft hands, very good route running and excellent blocking. The only worry was that the kid couldn’t stay on the field. He’d been hampered by multiple injuries throughout his college career.
Just weeks after the draft, I had the pleasure of interviewing Moeaki over the phone. During the interview, I asked Tony if he saw himself more as a pass catching or blocking TE.
“I try to be an all around guy,” said Moeaki. “I just want to do as many things as possible to help my team win, whether that team is Iowa or now it’s the Chiefs. I just want to do whatever the coaches ask me to do and try to do it the best I can. I just try to do everything.”
Do everything he did.
Moeaki finished the year with 46 receptions for 556 yards and 3 touchdowns. His rookie season was better than that of Tony Gonzalez, the man many could soon be comparing him to.
Let’s evaluate Tony’s season with the numbers provided to us courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
Pass Catching: +4.7
Pass Blocking: +1.3
Run Blocking: +3.1
Overall: +9.8 (includes playoff game: + 9.4 regular season grade)
Sacks Allowed: 1
Targeted: 65 times
Moeaki is most certainly an ascending starter. In fact, he could very well find himself in the Pro Bowl next season.
PFF had Moeaki graded as the 6th best tight end in the NFL. Only Jason Witten (+25.8), Marcedes Lewis (+17.2), Martellus Bennet (+13.1), Anthony Fasano (+12.7) and Rob Gronkowski (+12.5) graded higher. To go further, these rankings are based on players who played at least 25% of his team’s snaps. Moeaki, however, played over 900 snaps for the Chiefs, nearly double that of Bennet. If you change the filter to TE’s who played at least 50% of his team’s snaps, Moeaki moves up to 5th, just ahead of Antonio Gates.*
*Interesting thing I noticed. While Gates is an amazing pass catching TE, his run blocking sucks. He was graded at -6.5, which explains him being so far down the list.
Moeaki had a very solid rookie season. What is most impressive is that he proved himself to be a complete tight end, excelling both in blocking and pass catching.
One thing Moeaki can work on is his drops. He let 5 passes get away from him this year but he did catch over 72% of the balls thrown his way.
It will be really interesting to see how Moeaki progresses next season after having an entire year in the offense (and the NFL) under his belt.
Durability also never became an issue as Moeaki only missed one game in 2010.
What do you think Addicts? It appears that the sky is the limit for Tony Moeaki. How high will he soar?
Chiefs Roster Evaluation: