CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 17: Travis Kelce #18 of the Cincinnati Bearcats catches a pass against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the game at Nippert Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rutgers won 10-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce showed lots of promise as a freshman in 2009 before getting suspended for the entire 2010 season due to a violation of team rules. He came into the 2012 season with just 14 career receptions before going off for 45 catches, 722 yards, and eight touchdowns as a senior.
Kelce is a big, powerful tight end who stands 6-5, 255 pounds. He uses his frame well in the running game, blocking as well as any tight end in this class. He’s an aggressive blocker who offers the ability to set in pass protection as well. Such versatility is what will give NFL offensive coordinators the ability to cause matchup problems for defenses, running when defenses go small to stop Kelce as a pass-catcher and passing when they use heavy personnel to stop the run.
Kelce doesn’t appear to have top-end speed on film, but he actually ran an official 4.64 40-yard dash. At his size, that’s a really good time. Kelce also posted a 35-inch vertical leap and 10-4 broad jump at his Pro Day, suggesting he really is an explosive athlete.
As a receiver, Kelce runs good routes, using his body extremely well to shield off defenders. He reminds me a lot of Jason Witten as a route-runner, using subtle moves to get open. Kelce has strong hands; I didn’t see him drop a single pass in any of the games I watched.
NFL Comparison: Heath Miller
Another tight end with a great combination of receiving and blocking ability, Miller is actually a less athletic version of Kelce.
Kelce was once considered a mid-round prospect, but he’s moving up boards in a hurry. It’s really a wonder that he wasn’t there in the first place (at least for draft analysts); he’s a big, physical tight end with both pass-catching and blocking ability. He’s a second-round talent who could end up getting selected there.
Fit In Dallas
The Cowboys have James Hanna, but they could very well be in the market for a blocking tight end. The running game was horrible in 2012, and that has more to do with the loss of Martellus Bennett than you think. The problem is that to secure Kelce, the Cowboys might have to use their second round pick on him. I think that’s a little rich for this team right now, but if Kelce falls into the third round, I think he’s as likely of a target as any.
Other Scouting Reports
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.