From their impeccable route running to their ability to make defenders miss, Travis Kelce and George Kittle share an uncanny resemblance in their playing style. It’s no wonder they’re considered two of the best in the game. 🏈

Travis Kelce and George Kittle: Comparing the NFL’s Dominant Tight End Duo

When discussing the NFL’s top tight ends, two names consistently come up – Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers. Though they play for different teams in different conferences, Kelce and Kittle have established themselves as the gold standard at their position. While their styles may differ slightly, both bring a unique blend of skills that make them matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how Kelce and Kittle compare as complete players and what sets them apart.


All-Around Talent
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One thing that stands out about both Kelce and Kittle is their ability to contribute in all facets of the game. They are far from one-dimensional players who only line up in one spot or focus on one role. Rather, their well-rounded skillsets allow them to line up anywhere and do anything asked of them.

As receivers, Kelce and Kittle are elite pass catchers who can line up in the slot, out wide, or in-line as traditional tight ends. Kelce has led all NFL tight ends in receiving yards for four straight seasons, amassing over 1,000 yards in each of those campaigns. His precise route running and strong hands make him a safety blanket for Patrick Mahomes. Kittle, meanwhile, set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2018 with 1,377, showcasing his big-play ability after the catch.


But they don’t stop there. Both Kelce and Kittle are also asked to block both in the run game and pass protection. At over 260 pounds each, they have the size and strength to hold their own against defensive ends and linebackers. Kelce is a willing blocker who takes pride in his run blocking. Kittle is regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in football, often dominating defenders at the point of attack.

Their all-around skillsets allow their coaches to be creative with how they utilize Kelce and Kittle. Both line up all over the formation, from in-line to in the slot to out wide. This versatility and unpredictability is a nightmare for opposing coordinators trying to scheme against them. It’s a testament to their football IQ and athleticism that they can line up anywhere and execute at a high level in any role.

Physicality

Another trait that defines Kelce and Kittle’s games is their physical style of play. At 6’5″ and 260+ pounds, they bring a bruising presence to the field regardless of what they’re asked to do.

As blockers, their size and strength shine through. Kelce and Kittle overwhelm defenders at the line of scrimmage in the run game. They drive back edge rushers in pass protection and seal off inside lanes. Their physical blocking is a big reason why both the Chiefs and 49ers feature productive rushing attacks.

When the ball is in their hands, Kelce and Kittle also showcase their physicality. They aren’t shy about initiating contact and fighting through tackles. Both are willing to lower their shoulders and run over would-be tacklers. Kittle in particular is renowned for his punishing runs after the catch.

Their physicality also comes in handy when battling for contested catches. Kelce and Kittle use their big frames to box out defenders and come down with balls in traffic. They have the strength to haul in catches through contact and absorb hits over the middle.

This physical brand of football has also led to durability issues at times. Kelce has missed some games to injury in his career, including five in 2019. Kittle sat out eight games in 2020 with a broken foot suffered in part due to his aggressive running style. But when healthy, their physicality is a major weapon and big reason for their production and success. It’s simply difficult for most defenders to match up against their size and power.

Big-Play Ability

While Kelce and Kittle do plenty of dirty work, they also bring the kind of playmaking flair that makes them true difference-makers. Both have proven time and again that they possess the speed, athleticism, and elusiveness to break off big gains.

Kelce has hauled in 21 touchdowns over the last four seasons, averaging over 13 yards per reception in that span. His long strides allow him to eat up grass in a hurry. Once he finds space, Kelce is a tough man to bring down in the open field.

Kittle isn’t far behind, scoring 16 touchdowns since 2018. At almost 250 pounds, it’s astonishing the way Kittle can slip tackles and accelerate downfield. His speed and elusiveness for his size are what set NFL record with his 96-yard touchdown in 2018.

Their explosiveness also shows up blocking in space. Kelce and Kittle are menacing lead blockers who can pull and get out in front of runs. They consistently lay crushing downfield blocks sprung big gains.

When the stakes are highest, Kelce and Kittle seem to raise their games to another level as well. Both have a knack for coming up with clutch fourth quarter receptions and scoring touchdowns late to seal wins. Their big-play ability and penchant for coming through in crunch time is a big reason their teams rely so heavily on them.

Clutch Performances

Speaking of coming up clutch, it’s impossible to discuss Kelce and Kittle without mentioning their track records of delivering in the biggest moments. Time after time, they’ve proven themselves as security blankets for their quarterbacks when the game is on the line.

Kelce has made a habit of authoring highlight-reel catches to lift the Chiefs to victory. His game-winning touchdown grab against the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV is just one example. He also had the overtime game-winner against Buffalo in 2020. Kelce consistently rises to the occasion in pressure situations.

Kittle is no different, making a living off tough fourth quarter and overtime receptions. His catch and run to set up the game-winning field goal against New Orleans in 2020 exemplified his clutch gene. In a close 2019 NFC title game, Kittle dominated with six catches for 129 yards to help send the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Their ability to deliver when the stakes are highest is a testament to their mental toughness and competitive fire. Kelce and Kittle thrive with the game on the line, giving their quarterbacks someone they can trust to make a play. It’s no coincidence that two of the most clutch performers in the NFL happen to be tight ends. Their reliability in crunch time is a huge reason why their teams consider them offensive cornerstones.

Differences in Style

While Kelce and Kittle share many similarities, there are also some differences that define their individual styles of play. Kelce is more of a polished route-runner who wins with savvy moves and precision. Kittle is an imposing physical specimen who overwhelms opponents with sheer force and athleticism.

Kelce is the more natural pass catcher and separator. His crisp routes and ability to uncover make him Mahomes’ top option. Kittle is a bigger playmaker after the catch, where he can break tackles and outrun angles in the open field with his blend of size and speed.

In terms of blocking, Kittle is widely regarded as one of the premier blocking tight ends in the NFL. He overwhelms defenders with strength and technique. Kelce is also an asset as a blocker but may rely more on effort and grit over pure physical dominance.

The two also differ slightly in athletic testing numbers. Kittle posted a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine compared to Kelce’s 4.62. Kittle also had a higher vertical jump. These measurables speak to Kittle’s rare combination of size and explosiveness.

Of course, these differences are relatively minor when considering the overall impact both players make. But they do provide some insight into what separates Kelce and Kittle’s individual styles even if their end results are equally impressive. Their diverse skillsets are what allow them to thrive in any system or role.

Conclusion – Tight End Duo for the Ages

In the end, the similarities between Travis Kelce and George Kittle far outweigh any differences. Both have established themselves as the clear cream of the crop at a position that continues to evolve in today’s NFL.

Their well-rounded talents, physicality, big-play ability, and knack for delivering in clutch moments make Kelce and Kittle unique forces that opposing defenses simply have no answers for. They are matchup nightmares with the size and skills to dominate in any facet of the game.

It’s no coincidence that the Chiefs and 49ers offenses revolve so heavily around their star tight ends. Kelce and Mahomes, and Kittle and Garoppolo, have developed a level of trust and chemistry that is the envy of the league. Their teams know they can rely on them to consistently produce, whether that’s making the tough catch or laying a key block.

While tight end play has grown more prominent across the NFL in recent years, Kelce and Kittle stand alone at the very peak of the position. As they continue racking up accolades and rewriting record books, their legacies as the premier tight