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2018 Season in Review – Tight Ends

It was another productive year for the Chiefs’ tight end department. Travis Kelce was still the number 1 guy at the position as he entered his 6th season in the league and came out of it with his most impressive performance so far. Time to find out why.

Kelce’s receiving stats made him look more like a receiver than a tight end, totalling 103 receptions and 1,336 yards on the season. In week 17 he broke the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season for a tight end. However this crown was swiftly snatched away from him not even an hour later by the 49ers’ player George Kittle (who finished the year with 1,377 yards).

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However, despite this, he still finished the season 10th in the league for receiving yards which, for a tight end, is an incredible feat. But it wasn’t only yards Kelce put up as he also scored a total of 10 touchdowns on the year too. This ranked 16th in the league and just 2nd amongst tight ends (Eric Ebron from the Colts claimed the first place spot with 14).

The league aside, this was also some new heights for Kelce on a personal level. He broke his career highs in all 3 of those categories. His previous bests were 85 receptions (2016), 1125 yards (2016) and 8 touchdowns (2017).

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As well as great stats, he also picked up a couple of accolades along the way. Kelce was selected to both the pro-bowl team and the first-team all-pro roster; a feat that a couple of other Chiefs players, that we’ve already talked about, have accomplished this year as well.

So overall an extremely confident season for Travis Kelce as he shows no signs of slowing down; in fact he appears to be speeding up as his career continues. But what about the other guys? The only two active tight ends on the current depth chart are Demetrius Harris and Deon Yelder.

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Harris had a couple of career highs this season too. He scored 3 touchdowns in 2018 (his previous best was 1) as well as having the highest yards per reception of his career with 13.7. However he did only catch 48% of his targets this season which is the worst catch percentage of his 5 year career. Yelder on the other hand only played in 3 games this season, and started in none of them. He didn’t record a single catch all year.

Performance of the Season

No prizes for guessing who’s going to win the Tight End ‘performance of the season’ award. But what game was Kelce’s best? Well in terms of stats alone it has to be the week 13 win at Oakland.

This was the first game of the season without running back Kareem Hunt and Kelce showed no signs of the news affecting his game. The tight end scored twice (both of which in the first half) and totalled 168 yards (which was the most yards he had in a single game all season).

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It came with a few impressive catches too including a great sideline grab on 3rd and 15 to keep the drive alive, as well as a big catch down the middle of the field, in traffic, for 31 yards.

The Future

I feel like the future of the Chiefs’ tight end position is pretty set in stone for the next few seasons at least. With Kelce’s contract lasting until 2022, as long as he doesn’t suffer from any career-altering injuries (touch wood), he’s definitely going to continue to be a staple in this offence.

It’s quite a common belief that Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL right now; especially after the Gronkowski retirement rumours which have been spreading like wildfire recently. So it’s hard to not have faith in the idea that number 87 for the Chiefs can continue to perform at his usual standard.

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However I also don’t think it would be such a bad plan to pick up a better pass-catching TE to sit behind him. Although Demetrius Harris has been a solid backup, and caught 3 touchdowns this year, I think we can still improve that 2nd string position just a little bit more. Because, let’s not kid ourselves, I’m pretty sure that even I could catch a couple of touchdowns in a real NFL season if Mahomes is the one throwing me the ball.

So what would be our options to acquire a more reliable 2nd stringer? Because it is such a minuscule need, the organisation has the chance to pick up a player from anywhere. Now I’m nowhere near the best draft analyst on the internet, however there are some names that have sprung up who may drop into the later rounds such as Alize Mack from Notre Dame and Dax Raymond from Utah State. Some believe the 2 are projected to be drafted between rounds 3 and 5 so, if their name gets called upon by the Chiefs in the closing rounds of the draft, I wouldn’t be too annoyed.

This week was a particularly short edition of my ‘2018 season in review’ series however it covered arguably one of the most valuable players on the Chiefs roster. Kelce is undeniably a stud at the tight end position and I wouldn’t want any other player currently in the NFL to replace him. Let’s hope he keeps the ball rolling into 2019!

 

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