The Chiefs made one of the biggest offseason moves in trading away Tyreek Hill and are looking towards the draft to fill that hole. However, when you look at the Chiefs’ offensive needs in general, there is still one position that may be needier than you would think. Of course, the Chiefs still have Travis Kelce playing at an All-Pro level, but he will turn 33 years old this season. Jody Fortson is back on a one-year deal, and the Chiefs drafted Noah Grey last year, but are either of these long-term solutions?
The Chiefs have already moved on from one superstar on their offense, and they need to start preparing for a future without Travis Kelce. In recent years, tight end has been one of the trickiest positions to draft, and while this draft class isn’t top-heavy at the position, I believe there are some great scheme fits for the Chiefs in this draft that could be scary good with Mahomes at QB. So, let us take a look at this year’s class:
For most, Trey Mcbride is the consensus TE1 in this class, and for a good reason. McBride is the most well-rounded at the position in this class and the most likely to make an immediate impact. He’s big, fast, and not afraid to contribute in pass block or run block. His only real downside is his route running isn’t quite as polished to the level of some of the other prospects in this class, but that can be worked on at the next level.
McBride could sneak into the back end of the first round but will probably be drafted early on Day Two of the draft. The Bengals would be a team to keep an eye on as they have done well to address their offensive line this offseason but have a glaring hole at tight end. The Chiefs are not in a position to draft McBride in the first round, but if he is still on the board at pick 62, it will create an interesting scenario.
After McBride, most see Dulcich as the TE2 of this class. Dulcich is an intriguing prospect, but I have to disagree with the consensus on this one. Dulcich is one of the better route runners in this class; he has solid speed and great RAC ability. The issue is that he is undersized for the position at 6’4 240 lbs. He doesn’t lack effort for blocking, but he often gets run over by defenders. On top of this, Dulcich has one of the highest drop rates out of the top TE prospects in this class. He isn’t ideal in contested catch situations and suffers from some concentration drops.
Dulcich is more of a project than most people believe him to be. In two to three years, I could see Dulcich being the best tight end to emerge from this class, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he were on a practice squad at that point. I see Dulcich being drafted at some point on Day Two of the draft, and I don’t think the Chiefs should spend that kind of capital on a project.
Cade Otton is one of my favorite prospects when it comes to the Chiefs. Otton is one of the most instinctual players in this draft when it comes to reading defenses. Like Kelce, Otton always seems to know where the hole in the defense is going to be and is always able to get you three to four extra yards per play. He has great hands, is already a solid run blocker, and is a decent enough pass blocker.
The downside to Otton is his athleticism. Otton isn’t exactly the fastest TE prospect out there. Otton may never be a superstar like Travis Kelce, but he could easily be a ten-year starter. So while he may not be as flashy as other prospects, he can be a solid contributor to any offense. Otton could be drafted anywhere from round three to five, so I could see the Chiefs doing their due diligence on him.
Jelani Woods is the biggest boom-or-bust prospect not just at TE this year but quite possibly at any position. Statistically, Woods had the greatest combine performance of any tight end ever. However, when you look at his game tape, the numbers don’t quite match up. Woods ran a 4.61 40 time at 6’7″, 260 pounds. Yet on tape, you rarely see this kind of speed.
When Woods has a chance to break away, you can start to see that speed show up, but he is often slow out of his blocks and doesn’t get the chance to let his speed shine. His route running needs obvious work, and while his blocking isn’t the worst, it also isn’t great. Woods does have solid hands and, at 6’7″, turns most 50/50 balls into 80/20 in his favor.
Woods has the most potential from any prospect in this class but is also one of the rawest prospects. Would the Chiefs be willing to take the plunge and bet on him developing correctly under Kelce? I’m sure many teams are drawn to the idea of a prospect like Woods, so we may even see a team reach to take him as high as the second round. While I think this is unlikely, I wouldn’t be comfortable taking him until late Day Two.
Lastly, let’s talk about my favorite sleeper at any position in this class, Charlie Kolar. When you line up Charlie Kolar and Travis Kelce’s combine numbers up side by side, you find something almost identical. Yet you see almost no hype for Kolar leading up to the draft. Most see Kolar as around a fifth-round prospect.
I can’t make sense of that projection after watching Kolar play four years at Iowa State. Kolar may be one of the most fluid route runners in this class, has solid deep and short speed, and has phenomenal catching ability. How often do you see a college TE being double-teamed? Kolar found himself in this situation quite frequently.
The only downside to Kolar is that he offers little to no help as a blocker, but this is something he can work on at the next level. Kolar can be an immediate impact in the passing game, and even if he never becomes a good blocker, I believe he can still become one of the top TEs in the NFL. The Chiefs have two fourth-round picks, and I believe they should use one of these picks on Kolar.
Which TE do you hope the Chiefs take in the 2022 NFL Draft? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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