Almost a year ago, I wrote about how the Kansas City Chiefs had drafted two of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, and just how improbable that was. At the end of the story, I half-jokingly wondered if they could hit on a third, with then-rookie Noah Gray.
Needless to say, if Gray is going to be great, he’ll be following more the Kelce path to greatness, than Gonzalez. Gray didn’t have a great rookie season, similar to how Kelce missed his entire rookie season with an injury.
Gray only had 7 catches (10 targets) for 36 yards and one touchdown the entire season. It wasn’t great, but it was to be somewhat expected when you’re always going to play at least second fiddle behind Kelce. Still, Chiefs fans expected to see a little bit more out of former Duke tight end.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray had a disappointing rookie season. With a stacked tight end roster heading into camp, can Gray separate himself?
So what can be expected going forward? It’s going to be an uphill battle for Gray for sure. Last year the Chiefs brought back Blake Bell who had won the Super Bowl with the team back in 2019, before playing a year with the Cowboys. Without Bell, Gray might have shined a little bit more, but that doesn’t mean much because the Bell-dozer only had 9 receptions himself. Now this year Gray has to compete with Bell and a handful of other tight ends currently on the roster.
Fan-favorite Jody Fortson could be the actual favorite to become TE2 behind Kelce, especially if he rebounds from injury. Still, the rehab could give Gray an opportunity to leapfrog either Bell or Fortson and keep a roster spot as TE3. He’s really going to have to find a niche for himself, because those two players may be his top competition, but the other tight ends currently on the roster aren’t anything to sneeze at.
Mark Vital is already turning heads, and they also have Jordan Franks and Matt Bushman. It’s true that these three guys will have the hardest time making the roster past training camp, so it would be extremely embarrassing for Gray if he couldn’t at least beat them out.
Like I said, Gray has the potential to be great, but he’s really going to have to carve himself something of a niche in year 2 to justify a roster spot. That’s probably going to come on special teams, or, God-forbid, because of an injury. I’m projecting that Gray will end up as the TE3 or 4 on the roster, with a true success beating out Bell or Fortson.
It’s clear that Andy Reid really wants to try more two tight-end sets. He just needs a second tight end opposite of Kelce. Maybe Gray can be that player.