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Travis Kelce

Is Travis Kelce The Greatest TE of All Time?

  • Justin Melo
  • February 14, 2023
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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was outstanding throughout Sunday’s 38-35 Super Bowl LVII victory. Kelce recorded team-highs in receptions (6), receiving yards (81), and touchdowns (1). With his second Super Bowl ring now secured, Kelce has firmly established himself as the greatest tight end of all time.

Kelce continued to rewrite the record books through Sunday’s impactful performance. Kelce caught his record-setting 16th postseason touchdown in Kansas City’s Super Bowl LVII triumph, officially surpassing Rob Gronkowski, who scored 15 touchdowns in 22 playoff appearances. Kelce passed Gronkowski despite playing in four fewer playoff games (18) than Gronkowski thus far.

Kelce’s postseason performances get more ridiculous with added context. In addition to 16 receiving touchdowns, Kelce has also recorded 133 postseason receptions for 1,548 receiving yards. Forget surpassing Gronkowski. Only Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice has more receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown grabs in the postseason than Kelce does.
Kelce’s outlandish production remains on a historic pace. Kelce just recorded his seventh consecutive 1,000-yard regular-season campaign. Gronkowski never strung together more than two 1,000-yard campaigns consecutively. No other tight end has matched Kelce’s consistency. There’s an excellent reason to believe an eighth straight 1,000-yard season will arrive for Kelce in 2023. Kelce set a positional record for receiving yards (1,416) in 2020.

Kelce currently ranks fourth all-time among tight ends for the positional receiving yards record. Kelce (10,344) trails Tony Gonzalez (15,127) by 4,783 yards. Catching Gonzalez may prove overly difficult, but Kelce is beginning to close in on Antonio Gates (11,841) for third place.

Kelce’s receiving yards per game average of 71.8 ranks first all-time among tight ends (with minimum qualifiers). The next closest modern-day tight end is Gronkowski, who retired with a career average of 64.9 receiving yards per contest. The 33-year-old Kelce actually increased his all-time output by averaging 78.7 yards per game in 2022. It was the second-highest mark of Kelce’s career, trailing just his record-setting 2020 campaign (94.4 yards/game).

Kelce also answered a notable question in 2022. Kelce became Kansas City’s clear-cut go-to receiver in the wake of the Tyreek Hill trade. Many wondered how Kelce would respond to opposing defenses focusing the majority of their attention on him. With Hill no longer in the mix, defensive coordinators didn’t have to debate whether to shift coverage toward Hill or Kelce. Kelce passed that test with flying colors.

Nobody will mistake Kelce’s blocking prowess for Gronkowski’s. Gronkowski is truly the all-time great dual-threat tight end. Kelce is essentially a glorified wide receiver in Kansas City’s high-octane offense. How much does that matter? Today’s NFL is all about creating explosive passing plays. Nobody does that at a more effective rate than Kelce has. We’ll sacrifice blocking for that.

Of course, Kelce still trails Gronkowski in Super Bowl rings. Gronk won four Super Bowls while playing alongside Tom Brady in New England and Tampa Bay. Kelce just captured his second ring on Sunday. The Chiefs’ dynasty appears totally capable of winning more Super Bowls, however. As long as Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Andy Reid are around, the Chiefs aren’t done stacking achievements yet.

The Kelce versus Gronkowski debate gained another chapter on Sunday. There’s truly no loser. The debate rages forward, but Kelce is beginning to establish distance between himself and Gronkowski.

Written By

Justin Melo