After his 2021 season ended in tragic fashion, will Jody Fortson breakout in 2022 and develop into a player that the Chiefs can’t take off the field?
After going undrafted in 2019, the Kansas City Chiefs signed tight end Jody Fortson to a contract. He didn’t make the team that season but was promptly brought back on the practice squad, where he spent the entire season. After the same outcome in 2020, Fortson forced the Chiefs’ hand and made the team out of training camp in 2021.
Despite the limited season, Fortson showed flashes of being a long-term answer for the Chiefs at tight end and the TE2 in the short-term. In six games, Fortson had 54 total offensive snaps, 15 on running plays, and the other 39 on passing plays, per Pro Football Focus ($). Also according to PFF, on 34 route runs, Fortson had five receptions for 47 yards and two touchdowns on five targets!
One of those receptions was this beauty:
Yes, the sample size is small, but Jody Fortson caught 100% of the targets from Patrick Mahomes. It’s a shame that he got injured when did since I believe Mahomes was just beginning to trust him.
A Jody Fortson breakthrough would mean a lot to the Chiefs for a multitude of reasons. For starters, it would finally give the Chiefs a true second receiving threat behind Travis Kelce at tight end that they haven’t had in a while, if ever. Second, it would add another weapon for a Chiefs team that is going through significant changes at the wide receiver. Third, the Chiefs have never really been a size team at receiver in recent years. Yes, Kelce has good size and has proven that he can use it to his advantage but the Chiefs have been more of a speed/finesse team at wide receiver and have never really relied on their size when targeting wide receivers. In addition, Kelce is a dangerous weapon mainly because of his nuanced route-running, his knack for finding the soft spots in zones, and his after-the-catch ability.
Of course, Fortson wouldn’t just be a power forward in the passing game. In limited snaps, he did prove that he is capable of being a three-down tight end. In 15 run-blocking snaps, Fortson earned an excellent PFF run-blocking grade ($) of 85.8.
After the injury, there were positive developments this offseasons regarding his recovery. Achillies injuries are some of the most difficult ones to come back from. Heck, I’m a firm believer Patrick Mahomes never fully recovered from his February 2021 toe surgery until the middle of the season last year. Foot/ankle injuries are also probably more sensitive for receivers than any other position. It’s possible that Fortson just isn’t ready in time to be regular early in the season.
If Jody Fortson can get back to his normal self, continues to grow as a receiver, and prove that he can block in the run game as well, I fully expect him to push at least one of Blake Bell or Noah Gray off the roster and onto the practice squad/free agency. Also, I do not believe that Fortson will just serve as Kelce’s backup. I see no reason why Fortson and Kelce can’t be on the field simultaneously as I view them as good complements for each other.
But in the end, Fortson is an unproven commodity. Maybe he turns into a weapon for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes but he also may be the next Demetrius Harris and just develops into a depth tight end, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Either way, Jody Fortson will be one of the most intriguing players to watch in training camp. Will he pick up where left off last October or will he still need more time to develop? That will be one of the biggest questions for Kansas City next month.
What do you think of Jody Fortson? Will he blossom into a weapon for the Chiefs offense? Feel free to let me know in the comment section or on Twitter (@StrozinskyLucas).