Should the Chiefs select a tight end early in the draft?
We’re now under a month away from the 2023 NFL Draft, scheduled to be held in downtown Kansas City, and Chiefs fans around the world are eager to see which prospects Brett Veach, Andy Reid, and Co. add to the defending Super Bowl champions.
There are numerous positions the team should address but few that they need to address. As the champions, their roster is loaded across the board, especially after their dominant 2022 draft class.
Depending on who you talk to, some people may say the Chiefs need to add another offensive tackle. Others believe that the team needs another pass rusher or safety. A huge concern within Chiefs Kingdom is acquiring another weapon for reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. When one hears “weapon”, most tend to think of a wide receiver, but could the Chiefs draft a tight end earlier than most would expect?
Travis Kelce, who will be 34 in October, isn’t getting any younger yet is still the elite player he’s been for the past seven seasons. He racked up over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns this past regular season, plus another 257 yards and four touchdowns in the postseason.
It’s an uncomfortable conversation but Kelce will decline at some point in the near future. It may not be this year but it could very well be next year or the year after. The main concern with a Travis Kelce decline is the lack of reliable weapons behind him. Kadarius Toney has potential but isn’t established and has struggled with injuries early in his career. Skyy Moore had a rather uneventful rookie season on offense and Marquez Valdes-Scantling may not be on the team past the 2023 season.
Yes, the team has Blake Bell, Jody Fortson, and Noah Gray, but none of them have the potential to be Travis Kelce’s replacement. To be fair, no one will ever replace #87. He’ll have his name in the Chiefs Ring of Honor, will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and potentially even be considered the greatest player to ever play his position. The team will never truly replace Kelce but they will have to find their next starting tight end for Patrick Mahomes and 2023 could be the year to do so.
The best way the Chiefs could acquire a future tight end is through the NFL draft
Acquiring a future starting tight end likely won’t come through won’t come through free agency or via trade. The next best option is the draft and, fortunately, the 2023 NFL tight end draft class is widely perceived to be the deepest it’s been in a long time.
Several tight end prospects are expected to be selected in the first or second round of the draft, including but not limited to, Michael Mayer (Notre Dame), Dalton Kincaid (Utah), Darnell Washington (Georgia), Luke Musgrave (Oregon State), and Sam LaPorta (Iowa). There are an additional handful of players that could be selected on day two. Mayer and Kincaid are expected to be gone by the time the Chiefs are on the clock at #31, while it could be a little early for the other three.
A common mistake some teams make is not taking advantage of a deep class at a certain position since they don’t believe that they need to address that position in that draft. Personally, I believe more in getting value at the draft instead of just focusing on immediate needs. I’m not saying that front offices should ignore needs but instead avoid sacrificing value in the name of plugging immediate holes. The majority of draft picks need time to grow and develop, so drafting with only the following season in mind is a little misguided, in my humble opinion.
That said, the Chiefs should at least consider addressing their long-term future at the tight end position. This draft class has more quality tight ends available than any class in recent memory and, probably, the next couple of classes will not be as deep as this current one. It would be wise for the team to address their long-term need since the value provided this year is as golden of an opportunity as they will have in the present and near future.
If the Chiefs opt to address other positions, it’s not unrealistic that we look back in several years and wish that Brett Veach and Co. had brought in another tight end to play with and eventually replace the great Travis Kelce.
If the board doesn’t fall the way it needs for the Chiefs to pick a tight end at 31, 63, and 95, that’s fine, but the team needs to at least be open to the possibility of using an early pick on a tight end. Andy Reid will design an offense for whatever personnel he has and a young and talented receiving tight end could pay dividends in both the short and long term.