Can Travis Kelce Reach 1,000 Yards In 2015?
The Kansas City Chiefs have a history of great pass-catching tight ends. Back in the Len Dawson years, Fred Arbanas was a terrific player who helped lead Kansas City to a Super Bowl title in 1969 despite being blind in one eye. In the late 1990s and 2000s, there was the great Tony Gonzalez smashing all-time records.
Fast forward to the present, and Travis Kelce appears to be the next man to hold the mantle. Drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of the University of Cincinnati, Kelce missed all of his rookie year after getting microfracture knee surgery before starring last season. In 2014, Kelce caught 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns, easily becoming Alex Smith’s most reliable target.
This offseason, Kelce’s role was made even larger when general manager John Dorsey released veteran Anthony Fasano. Couple that moves with the jettisoning of Dwayne Bowe and signing of Jeremy Maclin, and the passing game will have a totally new feel.
In this offense, Andy Reid loves to spread the ball around, which makes it harder for one player to rack up huge numbers. However, considering Maclin runs deep routes along with the speedy Albert Wilson, Kelce should have ample room to work underneath and in the seam. With Smith as your quarterback, that should mean big days for the third-year pro.
It could be tough reaching 1,000 yards with a quarterback who has never thrown for 3,400 in a season, but Kelce has a chance. Despite popular wisdom that Smith is the ultimate game-manager, I believe he will give Kelce more looks downfield even if the coverage is tight due to his size and immense athleticism.
The other component with Kelce is his ability after the catch. Most tight ends fail to gain much yardage with their legs, but Kelce runs like a big receiver. Even in his first true year of action, we saw numerous plays where Kelce ran away from linebackers and defensive backs.
The last time a receiver amassed over 1,000 yards for Kansas City was when Bowe did it in 2011. Kelce and Maclin both have a legitimate shot of cracking that barrier in 2015.