Earlier in the year the Buffalo Bills released their best tight end in Charles Clay. Looking to fill that void and create a more dangerous offense, the Bills signed one of the Bengal Tylers. While it might not have been everyone’s favorite, Tyler Kroft should be considered a starter based on the current roster. Is he an improvement over Clay? Let’s take a look.
Tyler Kroft is a capable to very good blocker when he can keep his man in front of him. This block accomplishes what it needs to despite Kroft arguably giving up quite a bit of leverage thanks to a well-placed hand near his neck. Elite defenders who can use their hands, agility, or finesse moves cause Kroft some trouble. Being fair, this is true for most tight ends and if you elect to have one routinely block the elite defensive ends of the world you deserve all the misery you’re gonna get.
Like most tight ends, Kroft doesn’t have mastery of a complex route tree. This one and crossing over the middle are mostly what he shows off. His timing is usually good with solid body placement to put himself in position to make the catch. Because of this, he’s open for the catch despite not gaining much separation.
Kroft isn’t gigantic at 252 lbs but this is still a good change of direction. He shows off some more blocking chops by taking an angle that allows him to drive his man toward the sideline.
Add up all the positives we’ve seen so far and Tyler Kroft has the ability to be a safety-valve-type player who creates a big target for Josh Allen. Kroft is able to consistently create chunk plays with routes such as this. Kroft also offers versatility by being able to be used more like a fullback or split out wide to draw coverage away from other targets.
Even though he’s not regularly asked to run a variety of routes, Kroft does need to work through traffic and do more than just run to where he’s supposed to be. A small change of angle allows him to get behind Ray-Ray Armstrong for the touchdown. Kroft uses his hands to catch the ball and isn’t afraid to go get it even if a hit is coming his way.
With injuries derailing his Buffalo Bills potential, Charles Clay never lived up to the dream of what he could be. As Clay’s replacement (as of this second), Kroft arguably has a lower ceiling than Clay did when he arrived in Buffalo. However, if Kroft can avoid the injury bug his actual performance should surpass Clay’s contributions to the Bills. Kroft can be counted on to block and provides a steady receiving threat. The Bills appear to be in better shape at the tight-end position than last season. That doesn’t mean Kroft should eliminate the possibility of adding another tight end through free agency or the draft. What it does mean is that the team has already begun moving in the right direction.