The NFL Draft begins four weeks from today, so we are breaking down some of the different prospects the Chiefs may have their eye on during draft weekend. Today we take a look at the tight ends in the 2014 class.
In the midst of the losses along the offensive line and the weakness of the wide receiver position, it may escaped many Chiefs fans that arguably the most important position in Andy Reid‘s offense – aside from quarterback – is the tight end position. Reid relies heavily on tight ends in both the passing and running games, using them as weapons to create mismatches against safeties and particularly unathletic linebackers. Want to create better wide receiver production? The best answer may be to draft a tight end.
Andy Reid recently spoke at NFL Coaches symposium and Mile High Report took down some notes from what Reid said. Very interesting stuff here, so I encourage you to read the who thing, but here the key quote that is relevant to what we are talking about here.
The real change was that instead of a one tool full back it’s shifted to tight ends and H-backs who can block and receiver, the full back isn’t dead, it’s just merged with the receiving tight end. If you talk to the tight end and line coaches of the teams with the most running success they all use their tight end as an iso blocker. Doesn’t matter what scheme they run for blocking, even zone blocking. This only works with smart tight ends, if they can’t properly identify who to block, they can make it worse, but the iso blocking scheme is still alive and well, don’t be afraid to study to see if it would work with your team, discuss it with your coaches. Especially if you have two quality tight ends, this leads to an extremely flexible system that is potent as both run and pass formation.
Take that quote and apply it to something Herbie Teope wrote at the beginning of the month.
Fingers will likely continue pointing to the wide receiver production. But tight ends Fasano, McGrath, Kevin Brock, Richard Gordon and Dominique Jones combined for 53 catches for 541 yards and five touchdowns.
To put that production in perspective, the last time a Reid-coached offense didn’t do well at the tight end position came seven seasons ago in 2007 when the Eagles tight ends totaled 49 catches for 522 yards and three touchdowns.
Kansas City went into the 2013 season with three tight ends: Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, and Tony Moeaki. Two of those three – Kelce and Moeaki – missed the entire season due to injury, and Fasano missed several games due to injury. The result was Sean McGrath playing all 16 games and starting nine of them. A position this important to the Chiefs cannot afford to be filled by a guy picked up off the street the week before the start of the regular season.
Good news is the Chiefs should see the full return of Kelce and Fasano, but the Chiefs need to add a third tight end as both insurance for the 2014 season and as a future replacement for Fasano.
Here are three things a tight end needs to be in Reid’s offense in order for him to fit within the scheme.
Smart. Pulling from the Reid quote: “This only works with smart tight ends, if they can’t properly identify who to block, they can make it worse.”
Athletic in space. Reid’s tight ends need to be weapons in the passing game. This doesn’t just mean having good hands, but being able to create mismatches against safeties and linebackers in one-on-one situations.
Balanced. It isn’t enough to just be a good receiving tight end or just a good blocking tight end. In order to be successful in Reid’s offense a tight end has to be both.
Want a good example of what we are looking for? Watch this video before moving on to the prospects. (Note: NSFW language in the video.)