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Evaluating the Chiefs’ battle at backup tight endby Matt.Lane on August 11, 2020 at 9:42 pm
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports Arrowhead Pride’s 2020 positional previews continue with a look at the Chiefs’ tight ends for this season. As training camp progresses over the next few weeks, the AP Nerd Squad continues to break down the Kansas City Chiefs roster position by position. We’re working from the top of the depth chart to the bottom, briefing you on how we think each position group will play out. With the release of John Lovett, the battle within the tight end group definitely became a little less exciting — but there are still spots up for grabs. After Anthony Sherman was re-signed, Lovett was always going to be a long shot to come back; Sherman was just a better fit as a fullback or H-back — but Lovett’s skillset added excitement. Now the most interesting thing to watch will be who replaces Blake Bell as the team’s backup tight end. The Chiefs are bringing back Travis Kelce, Deon Yelder and Nick Keizer — and have added Ricky Seals-Jones to the group. Let’s take a look at how they stack up. “The guy” What makes Travis Kelce so special? There is a long list but at the top of that list has to be his body control and change of direction ability at his size.- Skip release, close distance to LB- Dream shake + foot fire- Clear inside armEven the hi-lo wasn't working for Den pic.twitter.com/zyJmc36gFK— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) December 17, 2019 No drum roll is needed. “The Guy” is the best tight end in the game. Travis Kelce continues to be one of the league’s most dynamic, game-changing weapons — and as the offense has filled out around him, he’s become even more dangerous. In order to win, the Chiefs no longer need him to catch eight passes and gain 100 yards, but he’s still more than capable of doing that — and more. When all of the ways he is used (and his route tree) are taken into consideration, Kelce’s route running is arguably the best-ever among tight ends; he’s a mismatch for every defensive back on the field. And even on the biggest stages, he can take over any game; see last season’s Houston Texans playoff game for an example. While Kelce’s speed and ability after the catch may not be what it was a few years ago, his ability in the red zone — and in contested situations — has improved during the last couple of years. There’s no reason to think Kelce’s performance will take a step back — and judging from some early leaks from camp, he even appears to be in better shape than usual. New kid on the block Rick Seals-Jones has averaged over 16 yards per reception in two separate seasons. He's got the wide receiver and it shows. Nice body adjustment deep down the field here. pic.twitter.com/BQE30SiSmc— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) April 7, 2020 Early in his career, Ricky Seals-Jones had some success as a second tight end with the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns, but he hasn’t yet become a good second tight end. He was a wide receiver in college, so some of those skills have carried over to the pros; his feel for spacing against zone coverage — and an ability to track the ball vertically — routinely show up. And at times, he flashes more fluidity in his hips than most tight ends. But traditionally, the Chiefs’ second tight end has been a high-quality in-line blocker; receiving ability has been a secondary trait. Unfortunately, Seals-Jones’ biggest issue is that his blocking skills continue to mirror those of a wideout. He’s rarely been asked to block in-line — but when he has been, it has usually been on running plays where he needed to immediately climb to the second level to block linebackers — rather than trying to handle defensive linemen. Even Seals-Jones’ blocking in space mimics that of an average wide receiver — and that’s a skill in which Kelce already excels. Seals-Jones is a good athlete — but he’s not elite. His athleticism doesn’t always make up for his lack of size — or his lack of technical ability as a tight end. That limits his usage. Sleeper candidate Chiefs TE2 battle could be up and running yet again this year. Deon Yelder has to be the front runner and Ricky Seals-Jones may be a lil more exciting signed in FA but..dark horse Nick Keizer was on the PS last year but has the best profile for a traditional Chiefs TE2. pic.twitter.com/X5WOXmTiqy— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) August 11, 2020 From a size and strength standpoint, Nick Keizer has the best profile to mimic what Bell was able to do as a blocker. He understands blocking angles — and also has the size to down-block defensive linemen or seal the edge. When he’s working up into space, he has enough baseline movement ability to cover all the distance that is required — and while on the move, does a good job framing his blocks. Keizer’s receiving ability is a bit more old-school than the other guys in the room — but it is still vastly better than Bell’s was last season. He has enough speed and size to run the seam and present a large target — and has even flashed some ability to use his size in one-on-ones for in-breaking routes. If the Chiefs continue to use a blocking tight end behind Kelce, Keizer would definitely be the best fit. His skills as a receiver split the difference between Bell and former backup tight end Demetrius Harris. Best battle Welcome to the NFL, Deon Yelder. Here's to more crossers in your future. pic.twitter.com/aMuB6hxfR2— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) October 1, 2019 A couple of guys fighting it out to become the second tight end isn’t very sexy — but the Chiefs have one on their hands. Deon Yelder has the most experience in the system — and might have the best overall combination of athleticism and size. Both in-line and in space, he’s a capable blocker. As a receiver, he excels at shorter spacing routes that allow him to collect yards after the catch. Seals-Jones has had the most success as a receiver, so he has the best chance to be a vertical threat. His hold up will be a lack of blocking ability. Based on his experience, Keizer is the dark horse of the group — although he has displayed the best blocking skills and has flashed some ability as a receiver in traditional Y-TE routes.
Virtual training camp notebook: Notes from the Chiefs’ Tuesday look-inby Pete Sweeney on August 11, 2020 at 9:08 pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Training Camp Live 8/11Training Camp Live: Mitch Holthus and Matt McMullen recap today's practice at #ChiefsCamp and discuss the Quarterbacks group.Posted by The Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 The most unique NFL training camp in league history has begun, with Chiefs rookies and veterans back in Kansas City to ready themselves for the Super Bowl title defense. With camp closed to fans and media (at the moment), the next best thing we have is Training Camp Live, an in-house web show broadcast by the Chiefs on Facebook. Here are a few things we gleaned from Tuesday’s look-ins, along with timestamps: 2:26: Hosts Mitch Holthus and Matt McMullen noted that the Chiefs’ first workout in pads will be Friday. 2:35: WR Tyreek Hill had a strong day on Tuesday. 7:51: Chad Henne was the second quarterback up after Patrick Mahomes, followed by Matt Moore. Jordan Ta’amu concluded the group. 9:48: Initial look at defensive end Alex Okafor coming off his injury, followed by Breeland Speaks, who appears slimmer than he was last season. 11:06: Clyde Edwards-Helaire is seen working with special teams coordinator Dave Toub and the returners. Also: WR Gehrig Dieter, WR Jody Fortson, WR Tyreek Hill, RB Elijah McGuire, WR Justice Shelton-Mosley, RB Darwin Thompson 16:26: First look at the first-team offense (with Mahomes), and we already see WR Mecole Hardman. 16:35: RT Mitch Schwartz, RG Andrew Wylie, C Austin Reiter, LG Mike Remmers, LT Eric Fisher are working with Mahomes. Edwards-Helaire is taking reps with the first team. 16:45: RB Darrel Williams is getting reps with Mahomes and the first team. 16:50: Mahomes goes deep to Hardman. 17:15: TE Nick Keizer is spotted working with Mahomes and the first team. Remmers is with the top team at right guard with Kelechi Osemele at left guard. 18:54: First look at the second-team offense (with Henne). FB Anthony Sherman, RB Darwin Thompson and WR Byron Pringle are on the field with second-team offense. 20:01: RB DeAndre Washington is currently taking reps with Moore and the third team. 22:21: First look at Ta’amu, working with Fortson, Pringle, Dieter and Keizer.
VIDEO: There’s still time to run WASP, apparentlyby Pete Sweeney on August 11, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images There’s still time ⌚️ https://t.co/TJfsnQXdvD— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) August 11, 2020 The shot (from the official Chiefs Twitter account) was taken during a training camp session at the facility. The Chiefs also teased camp coverage live on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Arrowhead Time.
Kansas City Chiefs rosterby John Dixon on August 11, 2020 at 6:09 pm
The up-to-date team roster, including contract and salary cap information. UPDATED: 1:09 p.m. Tuesday, August 11 Current cap space: between $10.7 and $11 million — likely $11 million. This includes the estimated salary cap impacts of all known signings and releases. More information about that figure is available below the tables. Positon Group Num Players Offensive Linemen 12 Fisher, Reiter, Wylie, Schwartz, Osemele, Barton, Allegretti, Remmers, Senat, Hunter, Durant, Williams Tight Ends 4 Kelce, Yelder, Seals-Jones, Keizer Fullbacks 1 Sherman Running Backs 5 Edwards-Helaire, Williams, Washington, Thompson, McGuire Wide Receivers 11 Hill, Hardman, Robinson, Watkins, Pringle, Dieter, Fortson, Shelton-Mosley, Baccellia, Ffrench, Lipscomb Quarterbacks 4 Mahomes, Henne, Moore, Ta'amu Defensive Linemen 15 Okafor, Jones, Clark, Nnadi, Saunders, Pennel, Speaks, Charlton, Harris, Kpassagnon, Danna, Hoyett, Wharton, Ward, Lawrence Linebackers 8 Hitchens, Wilson, O'Daniel, Niemann, Harris, Gay, Cobb, Smith Defensive Backs 14 Mathieu, Sorensen, Ward, Fenton, Breeland, Watts, Brown, Hamilton, Sneed, Thompson, Lammons, Clemons, Hill, Bailey Placekickers 1 Butker Punters 1 Townsend Long Snappers 1 Winchester Active/NFI 1 Keyes Active/PUP 2 Thornhill, Rankin Total 80 - Roster table explanation: Exp is years of NFL experience. Thru indicates final year player is under contract. Hit is the player’s total salary cap number for the current year. Dead shows dead money that will accumulate if the player is released in the current year, while Svgs indicates the salary cap savings upon that release. Active Roster PosNo. HgtWgt ExpThru HitDeadSvgs Allegretti, Nick C73 6-4310 12022 $712K$84K$629K Baccellia, Andre WR85 5-10175 02022 $611K$15K$596K Bailey, Hakeem CB34 6-0188 02022 $611K$3K$608K Barton, Jackson T68 6-7302 12020 $690K$15K$675K Breeland, Bashaud CB21 5-11195 72020 $3.0M$2.5M$500K Brown, Alex CB30 5-11170 12020 $675K$0K$675K Butker, Harrison K7 6-3205 42024 $3.2M$5.1M-$2.0M Charlton, Taco DE94 6-6270 32020 $825K$0K$825K Clark, Frank DE55 6-3265 62023 $19.3M$56.3M-$37.0M Clemons, Rodney S40 6-0209 02022 $612K$13K$599K Cobb, Omari LB59 6-4223 02022 $613K$50K$563K Danna, Michael DE51 6-1261 02023 $676K$264K$412K Dieter, Gehrig WR12 6-2208 32020 $675K$0K$675K Durant, Yasir T79 6-6331 02022 $613K$150K$463K Edwards-Helaire, Clyde RB25 5-7207 02023 $2.0M$8.1M-$6.2M Fenton, Rashad CB27 5-11193 12022 $723K$115K$608K Ffrench, Maurice WR89 5-11200 02022 $611K$5K$606K Fisher, Eric T72 6-7315 82021 $15.0M$8.9M$6.1M Fortson, Joe WR1 6-4226 12020 $610K$0K$610K Gay, Willie LB50 6-1243 02023 $958K$1.4M-$435K Hamilton, Antonio CB20 6-0190 42020 $888K$888K$0K Hardman, Mecole WR17 5-10187 12022 $1.1M$2.0M-$826K Harris, Darius LB47 6-2238 12021 $613K$7K$607K Harris, Demone DE52 6-4272 22020 $750K$0K$750K Henne, Chad QB4 6-3222 132021 $1.6M$2.0M-$375K Hill, Lavert CB39 5-10190 02022 $613K$110K$503K Hill, Tyreek WR10 5-10185 52022 $17.7M$22.8M-$5.0M Hitchens, Anthony LB53 6-0235 72022 $12.7M$12.7M$21K Hoyett, Braxton DT96 6-2302 12020 $610K$0K$610K Hunter, Ryan T60 6-5322 22020 $675K$0K$675K Jones, Chris DT95 6-6310 52020 $16.1M$37.6M-$21.5M Keizer, Nick TE48 6-5251 22020 $610K$0K$610K Kelce, Travis TE87 6-5260 82021 $11.2M$2.0M$9.3M Kpassagnon, Tanoh DE92 6-7289 42020 $1.4M$321K$1.1M Lammons, Chris DB38 5-10190 22020 $675K$0K$675K Lawrence, Devaroe DT93 6-2295 32020 $750K$0K$750K Lipscomb, Kalija WR19 6-0207 02022 $613K$110K$503K Mahomes, Patrick QB15 6-3230 42020 $5.3M$65.0M-$59.6M Mathieu, Tyrann S32 5-9185 82021 $16.3M$21.0M-$4.7M McGuire, Elijah RB30 5-10214 32020 $750K$0K$750K Moore, Matt QB8 6-3219 122020 $750K$0K$750K Niemann, Ben LB56 6-3233 32020 $752K$2K$750K Nnadi, Derrick DT91 6-1317 32021 $1.0M$480K$560K O'Daniel, Dorian LB44 6-1223 32021 $964K$381K$583K Okafor, Alex DE97 6-4261 82020 $4.9M$6.1M-$1.2M Osemele, Kelechi G70 6-5330 82020 $0K$0K$0K Pennel, Mike DT64 6-4330 72020 $888K$888K$0K Pringle, Byron WR13 6-2205 32020 $675K$0K$675K Reiter, Austin C62 6-3300 52020 $3.8M$333K$3.4M Remmers, Mike T75 6-5310 82020 $888K$888K$0K Robinson, Demarcus WR11 6-1203 52020 $1.0M$2.3M-$1.3M Saunders, Khalen DT99 6-0324 12022 $929K$686K$242K Schwartz, Mitchell T71 6-5320 92021 $10.8M$14.2M-$3.4M Seals-Jones, Ricky TE83 6-5243 32020 $925K$150K$775K Senat, Greg T70 6-6305 22021 $675K$0K$675K Shelton-Mosley, Justice WR84 5-10196 02022 $611K$3K$608K Sherman, Anthony FB42 5-10242 102020 $888K$888K$0K Smith, Emmanuel LB43 6-2240 22020 $610K$0K$610K Sneed, L'Jarius CB38 6-0192 02023 $769K$634K$134K Sorensen, Daniel S49 6-2208 72020 $4.8M$1.0M$3.8M Speaks, Breeland DE57 6-3285 32021 $1.7M$1.3M$405K Ta'amu, Jordan QB8 6-2210 12020 $680K$70K$610K Thompson, Darwin RB34 5-8200 12022 $716K$96K$621K Thompson, Tedric S- 6-0204 32020 $0K$0K$0K Townsend, Tommy P5 6-2176 02022 $613K$83K$530K Ward, Charvarius CB35 6-1200 32020 $750K$0K$750K Ward, Tim DE96 6-6255 12021 $611K$2K$609K Washington, DeAndre RB24 5-8210 42020 $888K$138K$750K Watkins, Sammy WR14 6-1211 72020 $15.9M$15.0M$875K Watts, Armani S23 5-11205 32021 $918K$316K$601K Wharton, Tershawn DT98 6-4255 02022 $612K$5K$607K Williams, Darrel RB31 6-1229 32020 $755K$5K$750K Williams, Darryl C61 6-2304 02022 $612K$107K$505K Wilson, Damien LB54 6-0245 62020 $5.4M$875K$4.5M Winchester, James LS41 6-3240 62021 $1.0M$200K$820K Wylie, Andrew G77 6-6309 32020 $750K$0K$750K Yelder, Deon TE82 6-4255 32020 $750K$0K$750K Active/Non-Football PosNo. HgtWgt ExpThru HitDeadSvgs Keyes, BoPete CB29 6-1202 02023 $631K$0K$631K Active/Physically Unable PosNo. HgtWgt ExpThru HitDeadSvgs Rankin, Martinas T74 6-5211 22021 $750K$0K$750K Thornhill, Juan S22 6-0205 12022 $1.0M$1.5M-$406K Reverve/Exempt PosNo. HgtWgt ExpThru HitDeadSvgs Duvernay-Tardif, Laurent G76 6-5321 72023 $0K$0K$0K Niang, Lucas T67 6-6315 02024 $0K$0K$0K Williams, Damien RB26 5-11224 72021 $50K$0K$50K Calculation of current salary cap space: Salary data shown in the table is from Spotrac.com, which currently estimates the team’s Top 51 salary cap space at $11.3 million. That figure is is based on a total team salary cap of $198.2 million, $22.7 million rolled over from 2019 and $10.3 million in dead cap from previously-released players. But Spotrac’s figure does not include the salary cap impacts of the following recently-signed free agent (or drafted rookie) contracts. The amounts shown in parentheses are the estimated cap space decreases for each contract. These could change when actual figures are available. Kelechi Osemele (between $186,000 and $486,000 — likely $186,000) Tedric Thompson ($149,000) Nor does it include the salary cap impacts of the following recently-restructured contracts or released players. The amounts shown in parentheses are the estimated cap space increases for each. These could also change when actual figures are available: None at this timeWith all of these figures included, the team’s cap space should be $10.7 and $11 million — likely $11 million. Remember: salary cap figures are estimates based on publicly available contract information, which can be misunderstood, rounded or inaccurately reported. Only the NFL, NFLPA and the involved teams and players know the precise figures. Therefore, any salary cap calculation must be taken with a grain of salt.
Two Chiefs projected to lead NFL in three 2020 statistical categoriesby John Dixon on August 11, 2020 at 2:50 pm
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images A new statistical projection from NFL.com paints a rosy picture for two of the team’s offensive players this season On Monday, NFL.com analytics writer Cynthia Frelund published a set of projections (she carefully noted they are projections rather than predictions) for the coming NFL season, identifying players that her mathematical modeling predict will lead the league in various statistical categories. By her calculations, two Kansas City Chiefs will lead the league in three categories. Passing yards: 4,790 Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated in-person offseason activities and continues to present unprecedented challenges as we move toward kickoff. Consequently, we’re facing a whole bunch of new factors on the projections front. One of the changes I programmed into my models for this season: to value personnel continuity (prioritized by position and snap count) even more than in prior years. We always see chemistry and playbook learning curves — my logic is that these will be even more impactful without a normal offseason and preseason (note: the curves do vary by position). The Chiefs have the most returning high-value players by snap count, most notably at the highest-value position of quarterback and among the QB’s top passing-touchdown earners. My model projects Mahomes to earn more than 4,500 passing yards in a whopping 67 percent of simulations (think of anything over 60 percent as high). Mahomes ends up atop the league in 18.5 percent of models. Bonus intel: Rounding out the top five, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady ends up on top in 16.5 percent of simulations (with more than 4,200 passing yards in 63 percent of simulations), and Dallas’ Dak Prescott takes the cake in 16 percent. New Orleans’ Drew Brees is fourth at 15.5 percent, while Atlanta’s Matt Ryan ranks fifth at 12 percent. As Chiefs fans, it’s easy for us to predict that Mahomes will return to his 2018 production in any given season. But it’s important to remember that a record-breaking season is just that: a record-breaking season. By definition, it’s an outlier — something that isn’t likely to happen very often. Still, it’s reasonable to think that in 2020, Mahomes could put up passing yards in the same neighborhood as his 2018 season. This feels about right to me. Passing touchdowns: 37 Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs Mahomes earns more than 35 passing touchdowns in 57.5 percent of 16-game simulations. Forecasting the 2018 NFL MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP to lead the league in passing touchdowns is admittedly quite unsurprising, so let’s unload the touchdown algorithm here for three other QBs: Seattle’s Russell Wilson throws for more than 30 touchdowns in 55.5 percent of simulations, Buffalo’s Josh Allen tops 22 in 57 percent of simulations and Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill matches or exceed his 22-touchdown total from last season in 54.9 percent of simulations. One player whose projection surprised me? Bengals No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. His median projection is to throw 21 touchdowns. (I use all median projections to order players in fantasy rankings, but there is always a ceiling and a floor.) Last season, Giants rookie Daniel Jones threw 24 touchdown passes. In fact, 14 quarterbacks threw 24-plus touchdown passes. When I look to see how many times in the model Burrow reaches or exceed 24 touchdowns, it happens in 53.6 percent of the simulations. Interesting. More of the same: as Chiefs fans, it’s easy to think Mahomes will return to 2018 form this season — but an outlier is still an outlier. Just the same, if Mahomes is healthy for the whole season, this feels a little bit low to me. I’d guess he’ll come in around 40. Touchdowns: 7 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs Damien Williams opting out of the season has driven a HUGE surge in fantasy value for CEH. Looking at ADP (average draft position), Edwards-Helaire is currently trading at around RB5 in PPR leagues. While I am fully on board with a ton of value coming from the Chiefs’ first-round pick, let’s temper expectations a little. My model ranks him as RB10. Not top five, but still a high ranking, especially for a rookie. One way to potentially earn a fantasy edge here: looking at a few other rookies who have strong TD projections and snagging them in the later rounds of your draft. My model likes Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. to earn five or more touchdowns (occurs in 53.9 percent of simulations). Raiders WR Henry Ruggs III hits paydirt five-plus times in 57.1 percent of simulations. For the Chiefs, Edwards-Helaire is the great unknown of the 2020 season. On paper, he is a perfect fit for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s offense; there’s every reason to think he’ll eventually be a big contributor in it. And yet, he is still a rookie who is coming into his first NFL season — one without a real offseason program. How much is that going to matter? Mathematical models tend to have a difficult time with unprecedented situations, so I’m not sure how much faith to put in Frelund’s projection here. So I’ll go with my gut, recalling that Kareem Hunt scored 11 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2017; seven touchdowns for Edwards-Helaire in 2020 seems a little low to me.