A career of adjustments should help Chiefs tight end Jared Wiley transition to NFL

If anyone in the Chiefs draft class is prepared to adapt to a new environment, it’s tight end Jared Wiley.

A fourth-round selection, Wiley switched positions out of high school, moving from quarterback to tight end. A few years later, he changed colleges, transferring from Texas to TCU and giving him experience with, let’s count them, three head coaches, four offensive coordinators and at least as many offensive philosophies.

Throw anything at Wiley, as he seeks his role with the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Chiefs — he’s ready.

“I’ve had to learn five different offenses in five years, this will be my sixth in six years,” Wiley said. “It’s part of my normal routine. So I guess I don’t think I’ll have much trouble with it.”

With each new path, Wiley collected information that helped mold him into an NFL prospect.

As a quarterback at Temple (Tex.) High, Wiley passed for 27 touchdowns and led an offensive that averaged 40.5 points per game, but he knew then tight end would be his future. Texas, Missouri and Houston were the primary suitors, all recruiting him to play the new position. He was good with the move.

“My favorite thing about tight end is I feel like it’s — aside from the quarterback — the most essential part of your offense,” Wiley said. “We’re asked to do everything, whether it’s in the pass game or in the run game or pass protection. I kind of like having that pressure or weight on my shoulders a little bit, and I like being able to prove to myself and to everybody else that I’m completely capable of doing it.”

And there’s this: Most bothersome from his quarterback days were targets dropping passes. He keeps that in mind as a tight end with the ball approaching, and it helps explain Wiley’s superb arms-extended snare of a pass over the middle from Chris Oladokun on the first day of Chiefs minicamp on Saturday.

Changing colleges provided Wiley more playing time. In three years with the Longhorns he caught 19 passes and three touchdowns. Over two years at TCU, Wiley had 71 receptions and 12 touchdowns and was one of the Horned Frogs’ top red-zone targets. He was part of the TCU team that defeated Michigan in the 2022 College Football Playoff semifinal, before falling to Georgia in the title game.

The 6-7, 260-pound Wiley graded out as a complete picture in the Chiefs’ scouting report. General manager Brett Veach said they were looking for a particular fit when they made Wiley their first drafted tight end since Noah Gray in 2021.

“It seems to me the last few years it’s harder to find tight ends in the draft than it had been in the past,” Veach said. “You do get a chance — depending on where you pick — to select a receiving tight end or a blocking tight end, but these combo tight ends are hard to find.

“I think it’s unique to add a true combo tight end on this roster, so certainly excited about that prospect there.”

Wiley joins a Chiefs roster that has seen some shuffling at tight end. He’ll join Irv Smith Jr., who signed with the Chiefs after spending last season with the Cincinnati Bengals. Gone is veteran Blake Bell. And Wiley is inspired to learn from perhaps the best in the game, Travis Kelce.

“I’ve been studying him for about three or four years,” Wiley said. “I’ve watched him play, tried to model my game after him. Just being in the same position room as him, absorbing information from him, see his habits, I’m excited about that.”