The K.C. Chiefs are going all in on developmental tight ends, and their latest signing even takes things over the top. General manager Brett Veach has apparently decided to sign yet another TE to the bunch: Mark Vital, who was officially added to the practice squad on Monday.
Vital first worked out for the Chiefs last week in a surprise visit given how little football he’s played since, well, middle school. Yes, you read that right: middle school.
First and foremost, Vital is a basketball player, and he’s a very good one at that, as part of the Baylor Bears team that won the national championship last year over Gonzaga. Baylor was known for their stout defense, and Vital was perhaps their greatest defender, who was named the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year and was one of four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year last season.
The Chiefs have taken on another project at tight end with Mark Vital.
After going undrafted, he was signed to the Portland Trailblazers’ summer league team, but instead he decided to switch to football where he earned a very short stint on the Seattle Seahawks practice squad during the first week of September. Seattle cut him loose and Veach invited him for a workout.
The Chiefs have enjoyed a lot of success with former college basketball players turned tight ends, with Hall of Fame player Tony Gonzalez serving as the ideal example. However, recent backups like Ross Travis and Demetrius Harris also fit the same profile and show that coaching up such players can yield good enough results to make the active roster and produce.
Vital is clearly a long-term project here for the Chiefs given that the team has both rookie Noah Gray and developmental project Jody Fortson already on the active roster. That doesn’t include Travis Kelce or Blake Bell as veterans, also on the active roster. So a team that already had four tight ends occupying active roster spots now has a fifth on the practice squad. If that sounds like a lot, it is.
Still, it will be fun to see if Vital turns into anything, because he clearly has the frame, the tenacity, and the hands to give it a go. If any team can turn Vital into a real contributor, it will be the Chiefs.