Travis Kelce has spent more time in the headlines this season for his personal life than his football playing.
While his relationship with Taylor Swift generates most of the attention, his ability on the field remains unmatched as Kelce was voted the unanimous choice as the top tight end in the league by The Associated Press.
A panel of nine AP Pro Football Writers ranked the top five players at tight end, making their selections based on current status midway through the 2023 season. First-place votes were worth 10 points. Second through fifth-place votes were worth 5, 3, 2 and 1 points.
Kelce got all nine first-place votes to remain the unanimous winner from preseason balloting. George Kittle got four second-place votes to come in second, followed by T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert. Hockenson, Andrews and Kittle were all named on all nine ballots.
Evan Engram also got votes.
Despite missing the opener with a knee injury and dealing with an ankle injury later in the season, Kelce has been performing at his usual high level even as Kansas City’s offense has taken a step back. Kelce’s 7.7 catches per game are the highest of his career, as he has caught a career-best 79.4% of his targets.
As much as defenses try to take Kelce away and force Kansas City to rely on its wideouts in the passing game, no one has the ability to improvise and find open space like Kelce does. He is on pace for his eighth straight 1,000-yard season — which would be twice as many as any other tight end in NFL history.
While Kelce’s skills as a receiver are unmatched by any tight end, Kittle has made a case to be the best all-around player at the position thanks to his strong blocking in the run and pass game.
The Niners’ use of Kittle as a blocker can limit his production as a receiver but he still ranks third among all tight ends with 443 yards receiving and can take over a game like he did when he caught three TD passes in a win over Dallas.
Hockenson’s career has taken off since being traded midway through last season from Detroit to Minnesota. He ranks second among all tight ends this season with 53 catches for 478 yards and has helped make up for an injury to star receiver Justin Jefferson.
Hockenson has 113 catches for 997 yards in 18 games since joining the Vikings.
The Ravens got Andrews some needed help this offseason when they upgraded their wide receiver room but he is still the key to a passing offense that is thriving this season under QB Lamar Jackson.
Andrews is an elite red zone threat with six TD catches — tied for the most in the red zone for any player regardless of position. He has 32 catches for 397 yards overall.
The Eagles don’t need to rely heavily on Goedert thanks to the dynamic receiving duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith but he is still a key part of the passing game.
Goedert has 35 catches for 360 yards and two TDs.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl