The Kansas City Chiefs definitely have their holes, so it’s reasonable to just expect the team to plug those holes as best as they can with the strongest possible value at each point they select a player in the 2012 NFL Draft. Offensive tackle should be first. Perhaps an inside linebacker in round two. A defensive tackle rounds out the list in round three and from there a running back, quarterback and so on. While it might not be a popular choice, however, a tight end like Coby Fleener from Stanford would actually provide an incredible value and fill a need in the second round.
Dwayne Allen is going to be the first tight end taken off of the board, so there’s no denying that Allen will likely be gone by the time the Chiefs select in the second round. The Clemson product has an incredibly well-rounded game and the top tight end is usually taken somewhere later in the first round (although last season, Kyle Rudolph was taken as the first tight end at No. 43, right around the position the Chiefs will choose in round two).
But Fleener should definitely be available at the Chiefs’ position and he would provide incredible value for a number of reasons:
1. Tony Moeaki has durability concerns. The Chiefs knew this much when they drafted him in the third round out of Iowa two seasons ago. Moeaki is a well-rounded talent who deserves to start and could truly put up incredible numbers for the Chiefs. He can block, has great hands and runs routes well. But he’s also coming off of a season-ending knee injury. Simply put, the drop from Moeaki to the next guy on the depth chart is major and the loss in the passing game is evident.
2. Matt Cassel needs a tight end. Dwayne Bowe is going to get his lion’s share of catches from Cassel, but it’s also clear that Cassel is better if he has an intermediate target he can look to since he’s not the big arm that will take a team over the top. Jon Baldwin was drafted to provide that, but Cassel’s not known for his big play ability. Instead, he’s an efficient quarterback who will rely on the tight end if he is there.
Unfortunately, the other options have included off-the-street Anthony Becht, Leonard Pope, who is best suited as a blocker, and Jake O’Connell, who continues to linger like the seventh round choice he started as. In other words, the pressure then moves to the wideouts and Cassel’s weaknesses become exposed without a go-to tight end.
Enter Fleener. The Stanford product caught 10 touchdowns last season from Andrew Luck and has great hands. At 6-6, 244 lbs, he’s a big target and yet he averages almost 20 yards per reception, showing how well he can stretch the field.
Wes Bunting at the National Football Post writes, “An impressive pass catcher who can win both down the field and underneath vs. man coverage. Has the frame and flexibility to develop into a solid blocker as well and looks like a future starting caliber NFL TE.”
If Moeaki goes out, a guy like Fleener can provide much-needed depth at a position that’s vital to the offense. Brian Daboll could provide some incredible match-up issues as well if the Chiefs lined up both Fleener and Moeaki in the same way that the Patriots have Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
As much as the dual tight end could be a luxury for many teams, it’s even more important for a team like the Chiefs if they choose to stick with Cassel under center. The durability concerns with Moeaki and the overall lack of depth make Fleener a choice that could pay off in multiple ways for the Chiefs and give Daboll even more playmakers to work with in the offense.