As training camp progresses, what does the competition look like behind Travis Kelce at the tight end position?
The Chiefs have one of the best and newly paid tight ends in the league in Travis Kelce. However, tight ends are an important part of the Chiefs’ and Andy Reid’s offense, and depth at the position is highly valuable.
In recent years, we’ve seen numerous tight ends such as Demetrius Harris and Blake Bell get used with or in place of Kelce. TE2’s in Reid’s system are often asked to be capable blockers and versatile receivers.
Going forward in 2020, the Chiefs have some new additions to the TE room alongside some returning faces. With training camp underway, the question is which tight ends have looked promising and who has a shot of making the final 53 man roster? The Chiefs have some options.
The Chiefs signed Ricky Seals-Jones this off season in a low-risk, high-reward move that gave them more depth at the tight end position. Seals-Jones strengths come in his length and athleticism as a pass catcher. He is a good route runner and can use his size to separate from defenders and make contended catches.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Seals-Jones’ availability is now questionable. Via Nate Taylor of The Athletic, Seals-Jones was carted off from practice after sustaining an injury to his leg. Since then, there have been no reports on Seals-Jones condition, and being taken off the field on the back of the cart is never a good sign.
Returning to the Chiefs after winning the Super Bowl, Deon Yelder is looking to make the team after two developmental years with the team. Yelder spent the majority of 2019 in the TE3 role, mostly being used as a blocker.
Yelder fits as a prototypical TE in Reid’s system. His blocking ability is actually one of his strong suits, while his receiving game has grown tremendously. Another guy who knows how to use his size, Yelder could be a reliable tight end that the Chiefs use as more of a blocker.
However, similarly to Ricky Seals-Jones, Yelder is also dealing with injuries. Sidelined by a groin injury, Yelder has yet to practice since the Chiefs began padded sessions. Andy Reid previously said that Yelder’s injury is only a mild one, so his availability at the start of the season isn’t in too much jeopardy. However, the lack of reps could open doors for other people.
One of the players who has been getting the most opportunities out of training camp due to injuries has been Nick Keizer. Keizer spent the 2019 season on the Chiefs practice squad after showing potential as an all-around tight end. After the Super Bowl, the Chiefs felt confident enough in Keizer to resign him for 2020.
The start of training camp has been huge for Keizer already. He’s been getting consistent snaps with the second team offense and has even lined up as TE2 when running 12 personnel. Rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. even mentioned Keizer as someone who has been good competition for him during camp.
Clearly the Chiefs like the versatility and competitiveness Keizer brings. The injuries to Seals-Jones and Yelder will only lead to more opportunities for Keizer, and so far he has been taking them.
All The Rest
The Chiefs only have one other tight end on the roster at the moment, former 49er Daniel Helm. Helm has never played in a regular season game and is very likely only a camp body filling in for other injured players.
There are still a few free agent options at TE, but it is very likely the Chiefs will roll with what they’ve got currently in the TE room. There are a lot of young guys who are looking to carve out a spot, and the rest of training camp will be their only opportunity to show they have what it takes to play in one of the hottest offenses in the league.