1. Travis Kelce
Kelce is once again our No. 1 tight end in the NFL. While he will turn 33 in October, Kelce hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. It’s true he’s not a stud run blocker, but last year marked Kelce’s sixth straight 1,000-yard campaign — a tight end NFL record he continues to build on — and he picked up his third first-team All-Pro Selection and seventh straight Pro Bowl bid. In 2021, he finished second among all tight ends in receiving yards and receptions, and tied for the lead in touchdowns.
Kelce is simply an elite receiving tight end, and he could have even more responsibility in the passing game this year with the loss of Tyreek Hill.
27. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: S JUAN THORNHILL
Actual pick: S Johnathan Abram
I once again think the Raiders were on the right track with the position they targeted, they just drafted the wrong player. Abrams was an athletic thumper, but time proved what Las Vegas really needed: an athlete on the back end with good range to play free safety. That is what Thornhill, who has earned two 70.0-plus grades across three seasons, could have brought them.
So where does this thing go next? It looked like nowhere for a short while. There isn’t much outlet for an ongoing squabble it seemed, with the Dolphins and Chiefs not due to meet in the regular season until 2023 and the only possibility of a face-off coming in the AFC playoff bracket, which the Dolphins haven’t been part of for six years.
But then Hill got into it with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who accused him of, er, being economical with the truth regarding his Mahomes comments, and here we are now, with something that’s now taken enough of our time that it will be watched and monitored in the months to come.
I’m glad you living two lives bro congrats https://t.co/mIY5f0G6FT— Ty Hill (@cheetah) June 20, 2022
Hill is irked and that reality doesn’t figure to find a resolution any time soon. Expect more chit-chat from him. Sooner or later, the Chiefs might get sick of it and bite back with something a little spicy. Goodness, let’s hope so. The summer heat is just another reminder that gridiron Sundays are still months away.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
The Kansas City Chiefs could maintain some of their offensive explosiveness despite the departure of All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill via a trade to the Miami Dolphins.
According to The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Marquez Valdes-Scantling established some chemistry through spring practices, which gives the team hope that head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy can still dial up successful big plays in the passing game.
Through four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Valdes-Scantling averaged 17.5 yards per catch and led the league in that category (20.9 yards per reception) for the 2020 season.
On the flip side, Valdes-Scantling doesn’t have the most reliable hands. He’s finished two of his four campaigns with a catch rate below 48 percent and never recorded a rate above 53 percent.
Valdes-Scantling played with a four-time league MVP in Aaron Rodgers, so we cannot point to a less than ideal quarterback situation for his inconsistencies. The wideout may run hot and cold with missed opportunities in the vertical passing game.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — RANK: 11TH
Kansas City lost two vital pieces of the roster that pushed it to four straight AFC Championship game appearances from 2018-2021 in wide receiver Tyreek Hill and safety Tyrann Mathieu, but tough decisions like these are how you create a 10-year Super Bowl window instead of a five-year one.
In the short term, they’ll have some growing pains as Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster and second-round pick Skyy Moore headline a new receiving corps, but they could do a lot worse in surrounding tight end Travis Kelce with ancillary weapons.
On the other hand, tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has yet to sign his franchise tender with the July 15 extension deadline fast approaching, and he hasn’t given an inch in negotiations, which is the leverage a player gains after a team trades major draft capital to acquire their services. Kansas City may have no choice but to make him the highest-paid tackle in the NFL, and it’s fair to question if his on-field production is worth that price tag.
Monday, Brown enrolled himself in a TrialNet study to help bring awareness and find answers for Type 1 Diabetes, a disease that has impacted him directly.
“This is a cause that hits home for me and I think it’s very important to raise awareness,” said Brown.
Patients must meet these requirements:
Have a first-degree relative living with Type 1 diabetes (mom, dad, sibling) and be 2.5 years to 45 years old.
Have a second-degree relative living with Type 1 diabetes (uncle, aunt, cousin) and be 2.5 years to 20 years old.
Brown’s younger brother was diagnosed with T1D at a young age, making Brown eligible for this study. His father also passed away at 40 due to diabetic ketoacidosis, although he never knew he had diabetes.
Around the NFL
“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the cases against Watson, said in a Tuesday statement obtained by NFL.com. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
Buzbee also said in his statement that Ashley Solis, the first plaintiff to file suit against Watson, has not settled her case.
“Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue,” Buzbee said. “I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a Tuesday statement that “today’s development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.”
“In college, I was asked to write about a dream job opportunity that I wanted to pursue and where the location would be,” Gronk wrote on Instagram. “Every time I had to write about my future, no matter what, I picked being a professional football player. For that assignment though, we had to pick the location. So I wrote that I wanted to play in Tampa for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for many reasons, the sunny weather being #1. I completely forgot about writing this report until 2 years ago when I had the opportunity to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And let me tell ya, the journey in Tampa over the last 2 years has blown away what I originally wrote about in college, big time.
“And for this, I want to thank the whole entire first class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team. I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field. The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all. Buccaneers fans, the Krewe, without you guys, none of this is possible, all of ya brought it every game, thank you for all you do. Cheers to what’s next, maybe sailing the seas. Arghhhhhh!!”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
1. George Karlaftis | EDGE | Round 1, Pick 30
“Following the team’s first of three mandatory workouts on Tuesday, Karlaftis revealed he got a head start on becoming a pro by losing 10 to 15 pounds during his pre-draft process. It can be estimated that Karlaftis, who was listed at 275 pounds at Purdue, is likely in the 260-265-pound range.”
Entering this offseason, EDGE might have been the Chiefs’ greatest position of need. While he initially drew mixed reviews from our pre-draft film team, all reports out of minicamp say that Karlaftis dropped 10-15 pounds — and on the field, is playing like a man possessed. If this more agile Karlaftis can translate his newfound athleticism into production, the Chiefs may have found a cornerstone around which they can build their pass rush.
Projected rookie PFF grade: 66.0