NY Jets nearly drafted Travis Kelce instead of Geno Smith

NY Jets, Travis Kelce
NY Jets, Travis Kelce / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The tight end position has been a wasteland for the NY Jets for the better part of the last decade. In fact, it wasn't until the additions of Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah this past offseason that they finally added two capable players at the position.

But the Jets had the opportunity to draft one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history a decade ago. It nearly happened too.

Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce recently recounted on an episode of his "New Heights" podcast that the Jets "were sold on" him and that he was informed they would either select him or West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round.

The Jets went with Smith while Kelce fell to the Chiefs at the top of the third round. Smith started just two seasons in New York while Kelce became a seven-time Pro Bowler and surefire future Hall of Famer.

Kelce recalled a conversation he had with then-Jets head coach Rex Ryan and how he believed he was going to be drafted by the Jets.

"I thought I was going to be the first tight end taken off the board, I ended up being the fifth. The Jets were sold on me. I had a great interview with Rex Ryan, he said it is between you and Geno [Smith] – if Geno is available, we are going to take him, and they ended up taking Geno."

Travis Kelce

The NY Jets missed out on a generational talent in Travis Kelce

The 2013 Jets were still reeling from the loss of Dustin Keller and were looking to find a new identity, both at the tight end position and on offense in general. They hoped the addition of Geno Smith would do that.

Little did they know that it would take Smith a decade to finally find his footing in the NFL. Kelce sat out his entire rookie season with a knee injury but returned in 2014 and almost immediately established himself as one of the best tight ends in football.

Meanwhile, the Jets relied on the incumbent Jeff Cumberland, signed veteran Kellen Winslow in free agency, and rotated in the likes of Zach Sudfeld and the late Konrad Reuland.

From Cumberland to Kellen Davis to Austin Seferian-Jenkins to Chris Herndon, the Jets never found a long-term (or even short-term) solution for the tight end position. Meanwhile, Kelce has dominated the NFL for the past decade and remains one of the best players in football.

Grading the 2022 NY Jets rookie class at the bye week. dark. Next

It's fair wondering what could've been for both Kelce and the Jets if Ryan and company passed on Geno, but that's all we can do at this stage — wonder.