Why the Chiefs should consider a first round tight end

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Brett Veach, General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs shakes hands with a fan before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Brett Veach, General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs shakes hands with a fan before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT /

With the draft quickly approaching, what are the pros and cons to the Chiefs drafting a tight end with their first pick in this year’s draft?

The 2019 NFL Draft is quickly approaching. This is the part of the offseason where speculation is the name of the game since there’s really nothing else analysts and fans can do. With that in mind, I’d like to examine the benefits and drawbacks to the Kansas City Chiefs shocking everyone and drafting a tight end with their first pick in this year’s draft.

This is a suggestion that has gained a little steam in the last couple of weeks. Given the Chiefs positioning near the end of the first round and their desperate need for a cornerback and potentially an edge rusher, it seems they may not have great options. This has led some analysts or fans to believe they will either trade up to grab the player they want or trade back to build draft capital and draft better value.

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What if they chose instead to stay at pick 29 overall and draft an offensive weapon? In 2018, the Chiefs were the most prolific offense in football. They could practically score at will in some games. However, in some of the biggest games, the offense did in fact falter. Not to put any of those losses on the offense, per se, but if the offense had employed one more weapon, they could maybe have gone from great to completely unstoppable.

This graduation could make the defensive woes a moot point. So, with the defensive changes in scheme and staff likely providing a boost, why not focus on making the best part of this team even better? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of drafting a tight end with the 29th pick.


It’s difficult to predict who will rise and fall in the draft. Many try and many fail. But, in general, you can bet that the value at the highest priority positions such as QB, CB, EDGE, etc. are often times low when it comes to the end of the first round. That’s not to say the Chiefs couldn’t get lucky and draft a great corner or edge rusher at this spot, but with each pick that probability decreases.

Given this, there might be more value at this pick in drafting an offensive weapon. Some of the main targets that might be available at this point will be college teammates TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant. Both were very productive tight ends in college at Iowa and look the part of the new-age tight end in the NFL.

You may argue that if the Chiefs’ only option is an offensive player that they should trade back. But there are other reasons why the Chiefs benefit from drafting a tight end. Let’s take a look at both the short and long-term benefits that a pick like this would provide.

12 Personnel

This is probably my favorite reason for the Chiefs going big and drafting a tight end. For years, the Chiefs have been searching for a second tight end to compliment Travis Kelce. For years, the burden has fallen on Demetrius Harris. While Harris is actually a great athlete, he is woefully inconsistent at the position.

If the Chiefs were able to bring in a second truly dynamic tight end, one who both blocks well and is a productive participant in the passing game, that would allow a couple things to happen. First, Kelce could continue to do what he does best, play out of the slot and on the outside. While Kelce is a willing blocker, and is decent at it, his true talents lie in the passing game.

Further, this would allow the Chiefs to consistently run 12 personnel and still throw the ball as much as Andy Reid likes. Given this formation is perfect for running the ball, a good blocking and pass-catching tight end would allow the Chiefs to create crazy mismatches because teams would be forced to play in their base defense on account of the run game.

If teams do this, which they likely will, the Chiefs can spread these defenses out and go five-wide all day. Or, if teams counter with nickel and dime packages, the Chiefs will have a much easier time running the ball. This could take a fantastic offense to an even more dominant level.

So, there’s obviously a huge offensive benefit to bringing in another dynamic tight end in the draft. But, there’s another major reason why this is a good idea. Let’s take a look at Kelce, and why his age and potential injuries make drafting a tight end high a good idea.

Travis Kelce

This may come as a surprise, but Kelce isn’t getting any younger. Yes, he’s still relatively young when compared to NFL standards, but you could argue that he may have only a couple superstar years left. Bolstering this position now makes it so the Chiefs will not skip a beat if age hits Kelce particularly hard.

Now, you may say this is all paranoia. I’d even agree with you a little. But, it’s no secret that age has hit Rob Gronkowski like a brick wall. While he is still a productive player, every offseason we hear that the next season might be is last or that he might just retire and call it a day. As the saying goes in football: the next play might be your last. This is something the Chiefs need to consider.

This brings me to my next point, sudden injury. Over the last several years, any time Kelce has been hurt and unable to continue, our offense has fallen off a cliff. Most of the games that come to mind are in the Alex Smith years, but it’s still a cautionary tale for the Chiefs’ front office.

Our worst case scenario is being in next year’s AFC Championship game and Mahomes’ favorite target going down with a minor injury that sidelines him the rest of the game. If we bring in another dynamic threat, this situation is all but neutralized. It’s simply a strategy of hedging risk that the Chiefs might be wise to employ.

Now, unfortunately there aren’t just pros to this decision. There are also cons. Let’s take a look at some of the negative aspects of drafting a tight end with their first pick.

The Downside

The prevailing sentiment is this is a deep class at tight end. The Chiefs could arguably get better value by drafting a tight end in the late second or third round. This is a pretty decent strategy given that Kelce himself was a third-round pick.

While this is a great argument, and one I would be completely comfortable with, if the right tight end falls, you might get more immediate impact by going with the premier talent than a guy who needs to develop. Don’t forget, Kelce took a few years to be as impactful as he is now. With 2019 being the premier shot at a Super Bowl, you want players who can make an instant impact.

Another potential con is the fact that there are some options in free agency that could provide similar production. This is probably the best argument I can see for free agency versus the draft. Someone like Jared Cook would likely provide all the benefits mentioned above as well as the instant impact the Chiefs need.

A player with the potential impact of Cook is going to command a large amount of money in free agency, however. There’s an economic idea called “The Winner’s Curse,” and this is super common in free agency. Drafting a tight end will be much cheaper and allow the Chiefs more flexibility in free agency to sign instant impact players on defense.

This brings me to my final point. Yes, the Chiefs’ primary need is corner. They should absolutely draft a corner in the first round if the right player falls or if they have the option to trade up. But with any first year player it is a total crapshoot. Even if the corner they draft develops long-term into a consistent starter, odds are they will struggle in coverage the first year or two.

The Chiefs might be better off signing a proven corner in free agency. This would be a less risky strategy overall and they could address multiple positions even with their lack of cap space.


As with any draft decision, it’s almost always a catch-22. You either lose by drafting a particular player that doesn’t work out or that player develops but you may have missed out on other options to help your team. It is no different in this situation.

The Chiefs need defensive help, without question. But think of how close they came to winning the Super Bowl with a bottom-of-the-league defense last year. For the first time in my Chiefs’ fandom, I felt the Chiefs demonstrated something that is tantamount to championship teams. They are extremely good at one thing, and it is very difficult for teams to stop them. Given how good they were on offense, the defensive woes almost didn’t matter.

With the change in scheme and upgrading their staff, I think it’s likely the Chiefs’ defense will be significantly better without adding a bunch of new talent. If you believe this, and I think the coaching staff and front office do, why not continue to bolster the thing that brought you so close to a Super Bowl berth?