What if the Dallas Cowboys drafted Travis Kelce in the 2013 NFL Draft?

Dallas Cowboys ultimately passed on the three-time Super Bowl champion in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Super Bowl LVIII - Travis Kelce
Super Bowl LVIII - Travis Kelce / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Travis Kelce has not only established himself as one of the best tight ends to ever play the game, but off the field he is becoming a pop icon.  That is mostly due to his romance with Taylor Swift, but he also has a personality that is engaging off the field and not just with Kansas City Chiefs fans.  Now, imagine if he was playing under Jerry Jones all these years.

According to Kelce, the Dallas Cowboys was targeting him in the 2013 NFL Draft, but there was a “red flag” that led them passing on him with the No. 47 overall pick in that year’s draft.  Kelce eventually went at No. 63 to the Chiefs, but the 3-time Super Bowl champion still has the Cowboys hesitations to draft him fresh in his mind.

When it comes to drafting Travis Kelce, Cowboys had character concerns

During his New Heights podcast, Kelce shared how his 2010 season-long suspension due to testing positive for marijuana while at the University of Cincinnati raised character concerns during his NFL Combine interview sessions.

"At the combine, I had some bad interviews,” Kelce said during the podcast, via CBS Sports. "The Cowboys, they were kind of pressing me about having this red flag of missing a year."

It’s hard to imagine that a team that has taken chances on players with character issues would pass on a tight end who was suspending for smoking weed two years prior, but that is the interview that is still fresh on the mind of a player who has certainly made the Cowboys and every other team who passed on him regret.  While Kelce was catching touchdowns and raising Lombardi Trophies, organizations like the Cowboys have been struggling to make it to the big game.

Would have Travis Kelce helped put the Dallas Cowboys over the top?
Chiefs star Travis Kelce / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

In looking at the path of both the Chiefs and Cowboys since 2013, Kelce ultimately got the last laugh, but it still stings.

"It ended really fast," Kelce said of his combine meeting with Dallas. "I basically just said, 'If you guys think I'm gonna be that kind of guy, or you're questioning if I'm still that person after everything that I've battled through to get to where I am now from missing a season, then you guys (should) probably go somewhere else and pick somebody else.'”

Would have Kelce made that much of a difference in Dallas? 

Travis Kelce would've played with and eventually replaced the great Jason Witten

With the Cowboys selecting tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round, the need was there.  The team was searching for their Jason Witten replacement and a tight that that could play alongside him and learn behind them.  Imagine if that was Travis Kelce who would’ve been catching the ball from Tony Romo in an offense that also included Dez Bryant at wide receiver, and DeMarco Murray running the rock. 

Although Kelce played just one game during his rookie season with the Chiefs in 2013, what he did in 2014 and the years after may have forced Witten out of Dallas a lot sooner.  Not only would’ve the future Hall-of-Fame tight end replace another Hall-of-Fame tight end, but he may have ad bigger seasons statistically given Alex Smith was his quarterback the first few seasons of his career.

But the impact of Kelce is how he made a young quarterback slide into the position and have success because he was a big, reliable target.  Patrick Mahomes is elite, but it helped having a player like Kelce to rely on.  He could’ve had that same impact for Dak Prescott who is not as talented as Mahomes (as far as raw ability), but a quarterback who could’ve benefitted from a target like Kelce in a similar way as Mahomes (with Kelce) and what Tom Brady had with Rob Gronkowski.

Now, this doesn’t mean the Cowboys would be the NFL’s current dynasty had they drafted Kelce, but they would’ve been in position given some of those teams they fielded over the last decade, offenses that featured running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.  Throw a tight end the caliber of Kelce on those rosters and there you go.

If the Cowboys could go back to that 2013 NFL Draft, those character concerns wouldn’t be such a big deal…in hindsight.