Could Chiefs prepare for life after Travis Kelce? Latest mock draft says so

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers would give the Kansas City Chiefs much-needed weaponry, but will they be able to select him in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Kansas City Chiefs v New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs v New York Jets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

The NFL is no league for old men. The game is often won by the exuberant youth as timeworn veterans fail to keep pace. Each year, Father Time comes to collect wounded veterans who have grown creaky from years of vicious collisions. Team scouts work from fall to spring, scouring the country to find their baby-faced replacements.

Father Time will eventually come for Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who will turn 35 years old during the 2024 NFL season. As the future Hall of Fame tight end enters the twilight of his career, at least one mock draft envisions the Chiefs preparing for life after Kelce during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Mock draft suggests Chiefs could select Georgia TE Brock Bowers

CBS Sports published a joint mock draft by former Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden and draft analyst Ryan Wilson. After some hypothetical trades throughout the first round, the mock draft ended with the Kansas City Chiefs selecting Georgia tight end Brock Bowers with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

"If Brock is sitting here at 32, that's the easiest pick for me," McFadden wrote. "He's a difference-maker, and he'll get an opportunity to learn from Travis Kelce. Whenever Travis Kelce decides to call it quits and get ready for his invitation to Canton in the Hall of Fame, you have his heir apparent right there WAITING in the wings, right there in the building. So this was super easy for me, and just imagine the offense that has Travis Kelce, Brock Bowers, Hollywood Brown, Rashee Rice, Isiah Pacheco along with everything they have along the offensive line. Good luck trying to slow them down."

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers isn't expected to fall out of the top-half of the first round, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The New York Jets are currently favorites to select the tight end prospect with the No. 10 overall pick. The chances of Bowers slipping to the last pick of the first round are low, but unexpected things happen in every draft.

There are debates about the positional value of tight ends every draft cycle. One school of thought suggests that tight ends aren't valuable enough to draft in the first round. The struggles of tight end Kyle Pitts, who the Atlanta Falcons selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, only strengthened that argument. Unfair as it might be, Pitts' struggles may scare some teams away from selecting Bowers in the first round, which could cause him to slip down within reaching distance for Kansas City.

Bowers led Georgia in receiving yards during his three collegiate seasons. The high-volume target possesses prolific pass-catching ability with rare agility and body control. He has shown the ability to find the soft spots in zone coverage and beat man coverage as a route runner. He is effective at gaining yards after the catch by shedding tacklers. He is an adequate blocker, though not quite as polished in that area as other tight ends.

"Bowers is an explosive athlete but lacks the premium measurables typically associated with early first-rounders," NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. "It might take a year for him to acclimate to defenders who are bigger, faster and longer, but he appears destined to become a highly productive NFL player with Pro Bowl upside."

Kelce posted 984 receiving yards and five touchdowns through 15 games during the 2023 regular season. It was a down year by Kelce's standards, ending a seven-season streak with at least 1,000 receiving yards. He could've likely hit that mark again in Week 18, but the Chiefs rested their starters with their playoff seeding already clinched. Kelce's statistical output was top-three among tight ends in receptions, yards, and 20-plus-yard catches.

Numbers can be deceptive. Although Kelce's 2023 campaign may suggest that he experienced a sharp decline, that may not necessarily be the case. The Chiefs passing attack and quarterback Patrick Mahomes struggled throughout the season, and defenses were able to focus coverage on Kelce with no other viable receiving threat. Kelce may not be as sharp as he used to be, but productive tight ends don't experience a sharp statistical decline until a relatively old age. With the free agency signing of wide receiver Marquise Brown and likely additions in the draft, Kelce could return to form in 2024.

As things stand, Kelce is under contract through the 2025 NFL season. He would be a free agent at age 36. Whether he wants to sign an extension or retire at that point remains to be seen, but he seems to be committed to playing until the proverbial wheels fall off.