Travis Kelce Vs. Tony Gonzalez: Comparing The Tight Ends’ 2nd Seasons


When watching Travis Kelce and Tony Gonzalez highlights, both rumble through Arrowhead like Pamplona bulls.

Outside of that, the two don’t have a lot in common.

Gonzalez is an affable, even-keeled guy whose middle name is “consistency.” Demeanor, stats, celebrations—you know what you’re getting.

Kelce’s the guy who blows airhorns at 3 a.m.; glues your sandals to the ground; loosens your swivel chair. You don’t know what you’re getting, but you know it’ll be uploaded.

The latter joined Bull & Fox this past week and touched on everything from Alex “Smitty” Smith’s leadership to Chris Borland’s retirement.

At one point in the interview (:28 mark in “Part 2”), Kelce also claimed that he’s studying film of Tony Gonzalez, specifically the 2004-2007 seasons.

The third-year star said that he’s analyzing how the 14-time Pro Bowler, depending on his weekly matchup, attacked zones and got in and out of breaks.

Naturally, I wondered how their second seasons compared.

RkYear ▴AgeDraftTmLgGGSTgtRecYdsY/RTDY/GCtch%
1Tony Gonzalez1998221-13KANNFL16161035962110.53238.857.3
2Travis Kelce2014253-63KANNFL1611876786212.87553.977.0

Provided by View Original Table

First reaction: Kelce is a mutant.

Second reaction: Why does this seem…off?

That’s when I remembered the age factor. Gonzalez entered the league after his junior season; Kelce declared as a fifth-year senior.

When age enters the equation, things get more interesting. Since Kelce turned 25 years old in Week 5 and Gonzalez’s birthday doesn’t fall until after the Super Bowl, I included the years in which No. 88 played as a 24- and 25-year-old, respectively.

RkYearAge ▴DraftTmLgGGSTgtRecYdsY/RTDY/GCtch%
2Tony Gonzalez2000241-13KANNFL161615093120312.94975.262.0
3Travis Kelce2014253-63KANNFL1611876786212.87553.977.0
4Tony Gonzalez2001251-13KANNFL16161187391712.56657.361.9

Provided by View Original Table

Gonzalez’s numbers trump Kelce’s in both cases. However, said numbers also include targets; the former averaged 134 of them (47 more) between the two seasons.

The craziest thing? Kelce, in the aforementioned interview, said that Andy Reid and Co. limited his snaps—throughout the first half of the season, at least—due to 2013’s microfracture surgery. He added, “In reality, I only had about a month before training camp where I was actually allowed to start running.”

The same surgery has ended plenty of NFL careers. Considering how young Kelce was at the time (which has proven to be a significant factor in the recovery process), Reid wasn’t about to throw him to the wolves.

Still, the 260-pounder snatched 77 percent of his targets last year. No tight end in Chiefs history (with a minimum of 10 receptions) has caught a higher percentage in a single season. Kelce’s 12.87 yards per reception also topped Gonzalez’s average of 12.75.

All of that said, you don’t become the greatest tight end in NFL history overnight. There’s only one stat line that matters in the long run, and for Gonzalez, it shows 1,327 receptions, 15,127 yards and 111 touchdowns.

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