I don’t think many analysts have particularly high hopes for the Buffalo Bills likely backup tight end Tyler Kroft. After battling injuries throughout the 2019 NFL season, Kroft failed to reach anything close to the expectations set for him by the organization and analysts across the league.
Personally, I was not too pleased when the Bills signed Kroft, as I didn’t see the potential that the management saw in him. Other than his size, I didn’t believe he had a whole lot to offer, but unfortunately for Kroft, his 2019 season was not the proving ground opportunity I think he had hoped it would be.
Kroft in 2019
He managed to play in just 11 games and only made 6 catches for a whopping 71 yards and tacking on 1 receiving touchdown. Prior to signing with the Bills, the veteran tight end played 4 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and showed some breakout potential in the 2017 season where he produced 42 catches, 400 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
It appears that the Bills signed him with the hopes that he could match that type of production, and I believe he is going to enter this upcoming training camp with a hunger to perform at a high level.
Kroft This Season
Even though I had and continue to have reservations regarding Tyler Kroft, I do believe that the combination of an injury-ridden 2019 season and the threat of a young and talented tight end like Dawson Knox taking over the tight ends room, Kroft is going to enter camp with a mindset to earn his pay and teach a second-year tight end how to bounce back from an awful season.
There is no question that Kroft has the raw abilities to be a quality tight end in the NFL. The question is whether or not he can stay healthy. His clear competition for getting snaps on the first-team offense is Dawson Knox, who had a solid rookie season but showed signs of mental focus or lack thereof. Ideally, if Kroft performs as he should and proves that he can produce in the passing game, then he will likely be in a 50-50 split on snaps with Knox.
It should be mentioned that Kroft is significantly larger than Knox and, therefore, offers a little more versatility, as he can add support in the blocking game. It should also be noted that Kroft was supposed to be the starting tight end coming into the 2019 season and, therefore, likely has a real shot to become the starter again, assuming he shows that he can lead the tight ends group.
I never thought I would say this, but I believe Tyler Kroft has a direct path to the starting lineup, and the main reason being he was brought here to be the starter, and Dawson Knox still has a lot to learn. The tight end position is notorious for being a difficult position to transition to. With Knox entering his second season, it could be beneficial for him to learn and develop under Kroft, while still receiving a significant number of snaps.
I am not saying that Knox shouldn’t be utilized, but if Kroft enters training camp hungry and determined to be the starting tight end, I think the Bills management team would be crazy not to give him a chance to lead the group and help guide Knox in the right direction. If Kroft can stay healthy, there is significant value that he brings to the blocking and passing game and I think the battle for the starting tight end position is going to be tighter than many expect it to be.