The past three days we’ve been reviewing the component parts of Kansas City’s offensive line to see how they measure up to AFC West rivals. You can check out previous posts on center, the tackles and the guards. Today we’ll move on to the tight end position in our effort to get the possible read on the areas the Chiefs should address in the offseason.
Leonard Pope has been the starter for Kansas City and represents a liability. The experts at ESPN’s Scouts Inc. pan his ability to run routes that are anything other than a straight line and his blocking skills are less than stellar. A tight end who can only run a fly route is a problem for anyone, but particularly when you are a team that relies on running the ball. There’s the blocking and the ability to make a key catch to move the chains. That’s the bad news. The good news for Kansas City is that Tony Moeaki should return from the torn ACL that cost him the entire season, and the 24-year old from Iowa is the pass-catcher and blocker that Pope is not.
Denver’s AFC West championship team had 28-year old Daniel Fells at tight end. Fells isn’t highly regarded and his numbers weren’t eye-popping, with only 19 catches. But he does play in an offense where, whatever the quarterback’s other virtues, accurate short passing is not one of them. The scouts do praise Fells’ route-running skills, while seeing a need for improvement in his blocking. It’s fair to wonder how much more improvement will happen at this stage of his career, and if that’s the case, it’s fair to wonder if Fells’ skill set is best for an offense that wants to build on running and throwing over the top.
The standard for tight ends in this division and the NFL overall has been set by San Diego’s Antonio Gates for some time now. At age 31, he’s been slowed by injuries, but the production is still there with 64 catches and he still makes a potent Charger offense even tougher inside the red zone.
6’6” Kevin Boss is the man for Oakland and as a solid blocker he fits right into the needs of a team with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush in the backfield. He’s not a big pass-catcher, but in his time both here and with the New York Giants he’s proven he can at least be seen as viable sure-handed option in short-yardage.
Tight end is a spot where Kansas City has big question marks, but given that the answer lies exclusively within Moeaki’s ACL, there’s not a lot of point dwelling on them at this point of the year. GM Scott Pioli may want to take a look at a better #2—at the very least one who can block effectively for situations where the Chiefs go heavy. But a big part of KC’s overall success this year will depend on good health from Moeaki.