We’re in the home stretch of the NFL Top 100 for 2019, and another Kansas City Chiefs player has made the list. On Monday night, tight end Travis Kelce — the fourth Chief to make the list and the first this season to return — was ranked 21st. He was 24th in 2018.
With Rob Gronkowski retired (at least for now), Kelce officially takes the throne as the league’s best tight end. If you’ve been paying attention, though, you would’ve seen that Kelce actually should’ve worn the crown for the past three years. Kelce was good with Alex Smith in 2016 and 2017, but Patrick Mahomes changed his career. In 2018, Kelce had 103 catches, 1,336 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. It marked his third straight 1,000-yard season, the first tight end to do so since Greg Olson from 2014 to 2016. It’s tough to imagine the Mahomes-Kelce connection will get better in 2019, but they did things we’ve never seen before in 2018, so why not get crazy?
As noted in NFL.com’s Kelce highlight video, the All-Pro tight end is the ranked first among all NFL tight ends in the Top 100. (Yes... NFL.com’s David Carr ranked Kelce behind San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle in a listing of tight ends on Monday — but everybody makes mistakes).
For a matter of minutes on December 30, Kelce held the NFL all-time single season record for receiving yards by a tight end. But when the dust cleared from the Week 17 games, Kittle had eclipsed Kelce’s mark by 39 yards.
But no matter. Kelce now holds the Chiefs franchise record for receptions in a single season and is now tied with Otis Taylor in fourth place for career receptions. In 2019, he’ll leave Taylor behind, pass Henry Marshall and challenge Dwayne Bowe for second place.
He’s also passed Eddie Kennison in career receiving yards, now ranking eighth among Chiefs receivers. By season’s end, he’ll leapfrog Chris Burford, Stephone Paige and Carlos Carson — and perhaps even Marshall — in that category.
So Kelce’s place in Chiefs history is already assured. But the big question remains: can he surpass Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez — who holds the NFL record in receiving yards for a tight end with 15,127? If he ends up playing for 17 years — as Gonzalez did — it’s almost a given. But with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball — and if he continues to lead the team in receptions as he’s done the last three seasons — it could take a lot less time than that.
Chiefs in the NFL Top 100
|21||Travis Kelce, TE|
|36||Chris Jones, DE|
|85||Frank Clark, DE|
|94||Mitchell Schwartz, RT|