Could the Kansas City Chiefs add another play-making tight end to the mix in the 2021 NFL Draft for additional mismatches?
With the Kansas City Chiefs earning a bye week during Wild Card Weekend, let’s take another look at prospects that the team could consider in the 2021 NFL Draft. Today we will discuss tight end options, ones who could be available in each day of the draft. Considering Andy Reid‘s love for two tight end sets, it makes a lot of sense to find a viable number two who can come in and be an additional mismatch for opposing defenses.
Since Demetrius Harris left, the last two seasons have been a clear drop off from that second tight end production. While the number two tight end’s expectation is not to be a 1,000-yard receiving weapon, the occasional rollout of a second tight end could improve significantly from what the Chiefs have used in 2019 and 2020.
Coming into the 2020 season, Ricky Seals-Jones‘ signing gave some fans hope of getting some of that production back. With only six offensive snaps during the regular season, it’s clear that didn’t pan out. Nick Keizer, an undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State, has seen the most playing time as the second tight end with 302 offensive snaps. On those snaps, he has hauled in a total of six receptions for 63 yards.
The other tight end that has seen playing time is Deon Yelder. A third-year tight end for Kansas City, Yelder has been on the field with the offense for 194 snaps in 2020 while coming away with seven receptions for 36 yards. Going back to 2019, Blake Bell was the second tight end who saw the field for 397 snaps on offense but only came down with eight receptions for 67 yards.
For comparison, in the last two seasons that Demetrius Harris was with the Chiefs, he hauled in 30 receptions for 313 yards, 19 first downs, and six touchdowns. His presence was magnified in the red zone and short-yardage situations as he gave the offense another big receiving threat.
Players like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins will command most of the target share as the primary weapons. Expecting large production from a second tight end, let alone a third receiver, is not the point of conversation. However, with a more talented option behind Kelce, the Chiefs’ offense could significantly increase their production when Andy Reid decides to deploy two tight ends.
Considering that the Chiefs offense deployed two tight ends 22 percent of their offensive snaps in 2020 indicates that Reid continues to enjoy putting together these packages. Now it’s about finding a weapon who can provide more during those plays or even allow the opportunity to deploy those packages even more.
It’s unknown what Kansas City will do this offseason, but as of right now, Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are both set to hit free agency. The Chiefs could look to the 2021 NFL Draft to find a replacement for Watkins in another deep receiving class. However, another option to replace some of that production could be from a second tight end to generate further mismatches. It would also give the team a developmental option who could, at some point, take over when Kelce is no longer around.
Since Patrick Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback, the team has continued to add playmakers around him. In 2018, that came in the way of signing Sammy Watkins through free agency. The next two players came in the NFL Draft with a second-round pick on Mecole Hardman and a first-round pick in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Doubling down on Kansas City’s strength and adding a new wrinkle to the offense is a high possibility this offseason if the trend continues.