For years the conversation around Kelce has been where he sits around other tight ends but with his accolades, he has outgrown them and now belongs in the overall receiver conversation.
Kelce has been the definition of consistency. His consistency goes back to the days of 2016 he has been over 1,000 yards and has at least 80 catches. He has not just benefited from Patrick Mahomes being his starting quarterback. Alex Smith was his main quarterback in 2016 and 2017. This year his stats match up with the best receivers in the league.
Kelce finished year eight in the league in receiving yards. His 1338 yards put him only behind the marks of Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, Devante Adams and other top receivers. The next tight end to appear in this list is T.J. Hockenson who is twenty-sixth. He finished the year with 914 yards. That 424 margin shows how impactful he truly is compared to the rest of his tight-end peers.
The disparity in stats doesn’t just stop at yards. Last year he was dominant in touchdowns. Kelce finished with the second most receiving touchdowns in the NFL last year. His 12 touchdowns was only two behind Adams.
His most impressive stat is what he was able to accomplish after he caught the ball. Kelce was third in yards after the catch with 657 only behind Austin Ekeler and Christain McCaffery the two best running backs catching the ball out of the backfield.
The reason running backs will appear so high on this list is because they run very short routes. Ekeler and McCaffrey don’t run deep routes they tend to get the ball near or behind the line of scrimmage, this means nearly all of their yards tend to come after the catch. For example, McCaffery ended the year with a total of 741 yards but 695 of them came after the catch. This means 94% of his yards came after the catch.
For Kelce about half of his yards came after the catch showing he is not taking little dump passes to exploit open space near the line of scrimmage. Kelce is using his ability to create and find space to execute the middle of the field. That ability is one of the reasons why he is an elite receiver and not just a tight end.
Fans that watch Kelce on a weekend week-out basis will also recognize that he is a versatile player. Kelce does not stick to playing against the tackle on the offensive line. Kelce is used in many different formations in the Andy Reid system. That ability to create miss-matches shows the trust the coaching staff has in him but also he is truly an elite player.
There is a reason that when discussions about the wide receiver room come up during the offseason Chiefs fans always include the caveat that Kelce is still on this team. That is because
a TE is next to his name on the depth chart. He is an elite-level receiver who just so happens to play tight end.