1. Travis Kelce
Kansas City’s Travis Kelce is regarded as the best tight end in the NFL. Last year, he finished third in the league with 110 receptions and, incredibly, 657 yards after the catch. His 12 receiving touchdowns were the second-most last season. He was eighth in the NFL with 1,338 receiving yards.
Kelce is not known for being a prolific blocker. Just because he is not seen that way does not mean he is incapable of it.
However, as his play and statistics show, he is such a threat in the passing game that he does not need to be overpowering in the run game. His presence as a receiver is enough for him to be the toughest tight end that defenses must account for.
Kelce puts the most stress on opposing defenses. Do you cover him with a linebacker or a safety? And with guys focusing so much on him, Kelce only needs half a second of hesitation from the defender to be in a better position to block when he needs to.
Furthermore, with some teams electing to double-team him, he can simply draw the attention of two players and “run-off” defenders as a decoy, allowing the play to go in another direction.
This is why Kelce is so tough to play against. If teams concentrate too much on him, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are so good at what they do that they can feature other players. This is why they don’t miss a beat when they trade away one of the best receivers in the NFL. Having Kelce on the team allows them to make bold moves on and off the field.
Yet when Kansas City needs a big play or to drive down the field in clutch situations, Kelce is such a mismatch for so many defenders that it is logical the team would want their best receiver catching the ball rather than pass and run blocking.
These are only five of the toughest tight ends the Bengals will face in 2023. They are not necessarily the best they will go up against this season. Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, Evan Ingram, Dalton Schultz, and Dawson Knox are some of the best at the tight end position.
Every week, the Bengals will be challenged by the best tight ends in the NFL. Let’s hope Anarumo’s defense is up to the challenge.