Matt Bushman needs miracle preseason to stand out among Chiefs tight ends

Aug 25, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Matt Bushman (89) runs the
Aug 25, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Matt Bushman (89) runs the / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

To say Matt Bushman needs a preseason miracle is nothing personal against Matt Bushman.

The Kansas City Chiefs just so happen to employ perhaps the deepest tight end room in the entire National Football League these days with the league's best overall player at the position atop the depth chart. Yet even standing in the shadow of Travis Kelce are a few players who excel in various areas that give the Chiefs considerable roster depth and offensive flexibility on game days.

The problem is: None of those presumed slots belong to Bushman.

From the pass-catching prowess and versatility of Noah Gray (who is expected to play a hybrid fullback role when needed) to the hands and length of an end zone target like Jody Fortson to the solid blocking of veteran Blake Bell, the Chiefs run four-deep at tight end and that's not a roster projection. That's how Andy Reid describes his offensive makeup even as early as May.

That means the Chiefs know what they have and they have it ordered well before preseason competitions are supposed to allow anyone a chance to upend expectations. And while even Reid himself would affirm that competition is very real—even at tight end—the group in place is already well-known and well-positioned. Basically, it's back to the preseason miracle thing.

Still, stranger things have happened than for a 27-year-old tight end prospect to push aside more proven commodities. Bushman was a BYU product who went on mission, which explains his advanced age, who went on to play for the Las Vegas Raiders as a rookie free agent in 2021. Not only did he make the team but he climbed the depth chart to the point where he was active and playing in game days in December. And then Brett Veach offered him a reserve deal for '22 and he's been here ever since.

Bushman has a big frame with big hands and he used it well for the Cougars as he led the team in receiving for two of his college seasons. It's possible he could be a big, productive target for the Chiefs as well, but scouts wanted to see him work on his blocking and it's hard to tell how far he's come since he landed at the pro level. There's simply no real game tape for those of us outside of Arrowhead to see if he's become a well-rounded player or not.

Given the Chiefs' decision to bring back Fortson after a season lost to injury, Bushman can see the writing on the wall. So what does he bring to the roster? In all likelihood, he's a solid candidate to make it through the preseason only to be cut at the end of the summer. If he makes it through waivers, the Chiefs would be wise to offer him a practice squad role and there are far worse places for a player to be than waiting in the wings of a Super Bowl team.

Next. Game-by-game predictions for the Chiefs schedule. dark