The Demetrius Harris Project & my reservations about it

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Before we get started, one quick clarification: I don’t have anything personal against tight end Demetrius Harris. By all accounts, he’s an athletic, developmental player who has shown a commitment to the process of becoming a viable NFL tight end. Harris has reportedly added more than 20 pounds of bulk since he joined the team in 2013. These days, he has a stature closely resembling that of a typical inside linebacker. That kind of dedication to successfully making the transition from college basketball to professional football is admirable. My question about this project is simple: Could hope in the Harris conversion hurt this football team down the line? The short answer to that question, in my humble estimation, is “yes.”

It’s not often that an unheralded player like Harris gets the kind of widespread support I’ve seen from Chiefs Kingdom of late. In fairness to the believers, rooting for an underdog is part and parcel of sports fandom. On some level, it’s something we all do. Though in this case, I think such a commitment to converting Harris has potentially dangerous implications. Had veteran Anthony Fasano been re-signed, I’d have no objection to the Harris experiment. As it stands, the No. 2 tight end spot is an important cog in Andy Reid’s offensive wheel and gambling on a long shot there seems imprudent.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to Reid’s beloved three tight end sets, his version of the west coast system employs 12 and 22 personnel on a fairly regular basis, and as such, could benefit greatly from a competent, second pass-catching tight end. Thus far, Harris hasn’t proven he can serviceably fill that role. Draftee James O’Shaughnessy has the talent to eventually take up that mantle, but for now, he’ll need time to adjust to level of competition and speed of the pro game (having come from a small school with less exposure to NFL-caliber talent).

Before today’s press conference, where it was revealed that the “leg injury” that forced Travis Kelce out of Monday’s practice was really just a mildly sprained ankle, the news of a hobbled Kelce sent shockwaves through the Kingdom. The blogosphere was already speculating about the impending doom the Chiefs were headed for sans Kelce. That’s the elephant in the room here, folks. The Chiefs don’t have qualified depth at the tight end position.

Next: So what's all the fuss about?