Jared Wiley could see bigger role than expected in 2024 for KC Chiefs

NFL Combine
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The Kansas City Chiefs made a rather significant investment into the tight end position when they spent a fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft on TCU tight end Jared Wiley. It's the biggest investment they've made since drafting backup tight end Noah Gray in the fifth round a couple of years ago.

Despite not being that much bigger of an investment than Gray, and being picked well outside the top 100, Wiley feels like a much more important player long-term as the value of the selection has been praised by several analysts on a national scale and the upside appears much higher given the size and athleticism.

Wiley was one of the most productive tight ends in all of college football last year and was a first team All-Big 12 selection in a league filled with great offensive players. He moves like a wide receiver in the open field and draws some comparisons to Travis Kelce.

Jared Wiley could have bigger-than-expected role in 2024 for the Chiefs.

Though the Kelce comparisons are a reach, he has a lot to do with the Wiley selection and Wiley will have a chance to learn under Kelce for a couple of years before being given the opportunity to be the tight end of the future for Kansas City.

Travis Kelce obviously struggled to make it to the finish line of the 2023 NFL season as he sustained a serious leg injury prior to week one that lingered throughout the year. Kelce never truly had a chance to get the rest he needed because the offense needed him in order to function. There was too much pressure on Kelce, a 34-year-old tight end, to carry the load of the offense. General manager Brett Veach would probably be the first to say that's on him.

That's what makes the addition of Wiley key for the Chiefs. Because of how much responsibility Kelce had last season and the stress it put on him, Kansas City is going to look for ways to give him a breather. They've done quite a bit with the wide receiver corps which helps, but a true tight end of the future that can replicate Kelce's snaps is the most effective approach.

Noah Gray has been a boost in that regard, but most would probably agree that there's a cap on his ceiling and what he can do. He's a solid second or third tight end, but Wiley appears to be more of a long-term starting project.

That said, Wiley will have ample opportunity in 2024 to establish himself as the tight end of the future, because the Chiefs are going to want to preserve Kelce. It's a strategy that worked out well for them after resting him in Week 17 before the postseason.

With Wiley, the Chiefs can avoid putting too much wear and tear on Travis Kelce as he ages. The offense as it's currently constructed can now probably survive without Travis Kelce playing a majority of the snaps. Because of that, they can use the regular season to integrate Wiley into the offense, and fans should expect a larger role than expected in 2024 because of that.

Now, that's not to say that he'll have big numbers necessarily. Most tight ends don't put up huge stats as a rookie. However, we could see Wiley play a lot of snaps, which will give him those important reps to learn the nuances of Andy Reid's offense. If he's going to play the role of successor, he'll need to a strong foundation laid in this rookie season.