Travis Kelce Is A Monster
By Ben Nielsen
New flash: Travis Kelce is really freaking good.
Kansas City’s young tight end has been tremendous for the Chiefs in the first half of the season, totaling four touchdowns and leading the team in receiving yards. It is how Kelce has done it that’s making him quickly one of the best players in the NFL.
Recently Deadspin published a piece on Kelce potentially being the next step in the evolution of the tight end position. The argument is rather compelling.
"Most great tight ends do all of their cooking in the seams and on crossing routes, situations where they can outrun slower linebackers and leap over smaller safeties. Kelce is more than capable of galloping his way to big gains on those routes, but what sets him apart from other tight ends is his dominance in the flat and yards after the catch. Kelce has done a ton of damage this year after catching the ball behind or just in front of the line of scrimmage. So far, he’s run up 278 YAC, which accounts for a whopping 66 percent of his total yardage (just 38 percent of Gronkowski’s total yards have come after the catch). He’s also averaging 8.7 YAC per reception, which is the best mark in the league out of all tight ends with at least 10 receptions. The most remarkable thing about Kelce is that he hasn’t been getting these post-catch yards by hauling in long balls and burning it down the field, but by nabbing short passes and then running around and straight through defenders. Andy Reid’s wielding him like an Andy Reid-sized Jamaal Charles, essentially, and it turns out that’s every bit as terrifying as it sounds."
Deadspin backed up their assertions up with a few GIFs. Here’s one that will make you shake your head.
You are not imagining things: That is Kelce putting a sweet double juke on a DEFENSIVE BACK. How in Deity’s name are you supposed to stop Kelce if you’re a 200-pound safety trying to tackle a 260 pound man who can move like a shifty wide receiver? Unfair.
Additionally, Kelce holds his own very well when it comes to blocking. The esteemed Terez A. Paylor tweeted this GIF out of Kelce from Sunday’s win over the New York Jets. (Kelce is lined up slightly behind the line of scrimmage next to Eric Fisher on the bottom of the screen.)
Muhammed Wilkerson, the guy Kelce levels, is no slouch at defensive end. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the second-best 3-4 defensive end in football overall and the sixth-best pass rushing 3-4 pass rushing defensive end. No matter, Kelce decks him anyway.
PFF grades Kelce as the fourth-best tight end in football through nine weeks, and he’d probably rank at least second if it were not for the fact he is the only tight end in the top nine that has played fewer than 300 snaps (273).
Given the development of Kelce, Kansas City’s offense could be significantly better in the second half than it was in the first.
It is going to be interesting how Kelce’s role expands. One would think he’ll see more playing time and targets in the second half than he did in the first, and one would also think Andy Reid will play Jamaal Charles off of Kelce a bit more as well. Keep in mind both Charles and Kelce have played fewer than 300 snaps this season out of a potential 535 snaps, so there’s some room for growth offensively in the second half.
More playing time plus a healthy Charles should go a long way toward making both players even more deadly as the season progresses.