October 14, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki (81) reacts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs And The Tight End Position

As the long wait between the draft and training camp continues no position group for the Kansas City Chiefs is more interesting to me than the tight ends. Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales has been gone for four seasons already and the Chiefs have struggled to fill the void left by his departure. After a solid rookie campaign, Tony Moeaki appeared to be the heir apparent to the position. However, a history of injuries in college have followed him to the NFL. Now it appears Moeaki (who has already been ruled out until training camp after having his knee scoped) will have to compete for playing time and possibly even a roster spot.

The Chiefs signed former Miami Dolphin Anthony Fasano to a four year 16 million dollar contract this offseason. That’s pretty big money to pay someone to just compete for a job, so one would assume that Fasano will get regular playing time as either the #1 or #2 TE. Then they spent their first of two third round draft picks on Travis Kelce out of Cincinnati. With several solid prospects still on the board the fact that Andy Reid and John Dorsey felt that Kelce was the best pick despite having Moeaki and Fasano on the roster tells me they think he is going to be a really good player.

So the Chiefs literally have three different players who all have a shot at being the starting TE this season. Usually when a team has three people competing for one starting spot it’s because the team doesn’t really have anyone good enough to claim the spot. I don’t think that’s the case in KC this season. I think all three of these guys are good enough to start in the NFL.

Making this battle even more exciting is the added importance of the tight end position in the KC offense. No one has actually come out and said this, but all one has to do is look at the recent history of Andy Reid’s offenses and the play of Alex Smith and it becomes pretty clear.

In the past five years the average combined numbers for TEs on Reid’s Philly teams was:

70.6 receptions
809.8 yards
5.2 TDs

Alex Smith’s use of the TE takes a little more digging since he hasn’t played for entire seasons that frequently. However, if you include the 2011 playoff games, over the past 4 seasons Smith has played in 48 games. That’s the equivalent of three 16 game seasons. So I added up all of Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker’s stats from those 48 games and divided it by 3 to get the average numbers for a 16 game season. Those combined numbers were even bigger than those from Reid’s offense:

87.6 receptions
1144.3 yards
11.3 TDs

Now, those numbers are obviously inflated by the fact that Smith had arguably the best playmaking TE in the NFL in Vernon Davis. However, Davis’s numbers dropped off last season once Smith was benched. So clearly Smith has shown that he likes to use the TE. If you average the Reid and Smith numbers together you get:

79.1 receptions
977.05 yards
8.25 TDs

So those are probably a good estimate for what the tight end production should be in an Andy Reid offense with Alex Smith as the QB, IF the TEs are up to the challenge. That would certainly be a lot more production from the position than KC has seen since Tony Gonzalez left. In those four seasons the KC TEs have averaged:

46 receptions
503 yards
2.75 TDs

So in order for Reid and Smith to utilize the TE like they have in the past KC will have to almost double their production at the position. Is one of the three guys fighting for the starting job capable of putting up the bulk of those stats or will it have to be a combined effort? Thus far in their career Fasano and Moeaki’s numbers fall well short of the mark.

Fasano’s averages as a starting TE:
35.4 receptions
420.8 yards
4.6 TDs

Moeaki’s averages as a starting TE:
40 receptions
504.5 yards
2 TDs

So thus far in their careers as full time starting TEs you would have to combine their stats to get the numbers we said Reid and Smith will be looking for from the TE position. Now, they both have been working with inferior QBs for most of their careers so its possible their production will be increased just from better QB play. If either of the two are capable of producing bigger numbers its probably Moeaki. Fasano is a great blocker and has good hands, but his playmaking ability is very limited. He’s more of a safety valve/drop off type receiver than an actual receiving weapon. Moeaki has shown more down the field upside, but his injuries may make it hard for him to win the job.

That leads us to Travis Kelce. I’ll admit that I’m a big Kelce fan, so this opinion is probably biased. That having been said, I believe that if any TE on the roster is going to step up and give KC the production at the position that Reid and Smith will be looking for it is Kelce. If you haven’t watched THIS VIDEO yet, do it now. It does contain NSFW lyrics in the music, so be warned. What you see in that video is a tight end that lines up all over the field. He has soft hand, runs after the catch, and blocks with a ferocity that is rare for the position. If he can get the playbook down I think Kelce will be the one that eventually claims the job.

When asked what TE he would compare himself to, Kelce’s answer was Jeremy Shockey. In his rookie season Shockey tallied 74 receptions, 894 yards, and 2 TDs. A season like that would be huge for Kelce and the Chiefs. I don’t know if that’s realistic for Kelce, but I do think he has a chance to be a real weapon in the KC offense.

Will he be good enough to help KC’s TEs meet the demand put on them in this offense? Only time will tell, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys when training camp rolls around.

What do you think Addicts? Will the TE position be a focus in this offense? Will one of these three guys step forward and claim the job outright? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • berttheclock

    One point about Fasano. Last season, Tannehill and others threw 232 passes to Hartline and Bess and they caught 135 of them. They only threw 69 to Fasano and he caught 41. However, Fasano caught 5 TD passes, whereas, Hartline and Bess only caught one TD each. Some safety valve or Red Zone guy, eh?

  • http://www.facebook.com/billie.cabral Billie Cabral

    Nice read. Props for that video Lyle. That was EXCITING as a Chiefs fan. That is one blood-thirsty beast! He blocks relentlessly to cause bodily harm and he doesn’t stop until there is blood or they are on the ground. He runs clean routes and sets up his defenders for poor position after the beatings they take when trying to engage him. Some of those defenders were scared to even attempt to engage! Also he has nice hands. Definitely going to be contributing on special teams. I love the T.D pass at the end of the clip!!! After this video I am definitely biased as well. Thanks! Jamaal is going to break some records this year with Kelce and Fasano blocking for him! Which records you say? I say ypc avg, most yards in a game, and well hell, all of em’

  • GrouchyChiefsFan

    I think R&D saw this as a position that needed fixing upon their arrival. Tony just can’t be relied on as “the guy”.

    • BoiseChiefPotato

      If Moe could stay healthy he would be great. Just sucks that he is always getting hurt. I had high hopes after the great catch versus the 49′ers. Great depth though.. Shit happens, and we have good enough pass catchers and blocking tight ends to keep moving.

      • P Heitman

        It’s funny that you mention his catch VS. the 49ers, because that’s literally the ONLY thing he has EVER done. He seems athletic and all, and I guess he’s an Okay blocker, but I think he’s been tremendously overrated by Chiefs fans on the whole. I’d love for him to come out and dominate, but I just don’t see it.

        • BoiseChiefPotato

          It wouldnt have been such an awesome highlight if it wasnt for Cassel. His over throwing to his recievers, and the fact that he caught it at the peak of his jump was impressive. It would have been a touch down amd less of a landing impacr if it was a foot under. But as a lifer and koolaid drinker, I’m conditioned to think that every pick will be great and all pro caliber… Only to cry myself to sleep and think about the picks after ours that end up being great! I should be used to it too, I have been a blazers fan since birth… Odem over Durrant!!! Fml. “This year will be different!!!” Said the optimist Chief fan every year!

    • thabear04

      He cant stay healthy he already out of training camp because his knee. They why we got Fasno and draft the TE. Hoping they can fill the void from the Greatest TE Tony Gonzalez.

  • Scott Firestone

    this boy has some serious skill how did he drop into our laps, easily a early 2nd rounder, 31 teams screwed up when they skipped on this kid he’s nasty and has the best hands I’ve seen since Tony G came up. just so brutal and strong. if this kid should be in at least 3 to 4 plays a drive….. come on chiefs you guys have made all the right move this year (with the exception of arenas). keep it up guy I have faith in you

  • chiefdeorty

    Kelcee has a lot of talent he could end up as one of the best tight ends drafted this year few years down the road. He did not have the best QB play at college and was not used that much till late in the year so really all he posses is still pretty much untapped. Between the 3 of them the Chiefs should be okay, and what about the basketball player? Reid should be able to get the most out of this group so WATCH OUT DONKEYS!

    • thabear04

      They said Demetrius Harris is getting better in camp. So lets see what he has during the pre season games

  • Jim Harper

    I was thrilled when the Chiefs drafted Moeaki. I live in Iowa, so saw him play often. I was even sitting in the 2nd row of the end zone when he made that incredible catch against the niners. But as much as I liked Moeaki, he does not do the things that Kelce does. Not only is he a beast as a blocker, but he is a nasty beast. I had heard he was athletic, but I had no idea how much so. He is as adept at making people miss as he is at just overpowering them. I don’t see any way that Moeaki does not drop to #3 on the depth chart. I can’t wait to see this offense in action.

  • Justin

    I say release fasano and moeki and give the te jobs to demetrius harris and kelce..

  • ArrowFan

    Any one TE is not going to be enough for an NFL roster and that is all we at the end of the season and it was MO. Thus the need for Fasano in FA to basically replace Boss (this was not surprising). Now the surprising move was the drafting of Kelce. Any two TE is defiantly not enough for camp or even a finished 53 man roster, so you know we where going to be adding a high round draft pick and or a UNFA or two, so the fact we added a TE in the draft isn’t itself surprising. However the fact that we added one when we did is. I am also a big Kelce fan and love the pick. I also think this pick shows that Reid and Dorsey are not only not convinced in MO but they are aggressively trying to replace him. Don’t get me wrong I like MO and hope he can regain his 2010 form, however he is currently injured and can’t even practice. So baring an injury Fasano probably holds the 1st TE spot with Kelce holding down the 2nd by default. That said I think all three make the team. Also most likely all three will see the field on a regular basis it is just who ever is in the 3rd spot is going to be seeing it playing special teams.

  • ArrowFan

    Kelce is my favorite rookie.

  • Suzi Conger

    Thanx Lyle. Great article. Like the breakdown stats.