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2013 NFL Mock Draft: Surprising name projected to replace Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta

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Many mock draft experts think that the Falcons will look for a replacement for Gonzalez, but this name might surprise you.

Andy Lyons

Is Tony Gonzalez definitely going to retire? That question is not yet answered with 100% certainty, which means that mock drafts in February will be even less accurate than mock drafts in April. However, most believe Gonzalez when he says that he is going to call it quits after 16 seasons in the NFL, and many experts are projecting the Falcons to select a tight end in April with their first round pick.

The only question would be: Which tight end do they take?

While Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert have been competing for the right to proclaim themselves as the best available tight end in the draft this season, at least one other name could be popping up as we get closer to draft day. Josh Norris of believes that TE Travis Kelce out of Cincinnati is at least a better prospect than Eifert, and projected Kelce to the Falcons with the 30th overall pick in his latest mock draft:

This will surprise some, but as an inline option I prefer Kelce to Eifert. I need to give credit to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports for calling Kelce the class’ top senior tight end a couple months ago. He would have shown everyone that ability at the Senior Bowl, but Kelce is extremely talented. This might not be popular right now, but throughout the process expect Kelce to be introduced in the top-50 discussion.

NFL Draft Scout rates Kelce as the 3rd best tight end in the class, behind Ertz and Eifert, but there's little not to like physically with the Bearcats prospect. At 6'5 and 260 lbs, Kelce is not only heavier than Eifert and Ertz, but it is believed that he runs a faster 40-yard dash. That will be better determined at the NFL combine and college pro days (Kelce's pro day is scheduled for March 13th) but there is good reason to think that he could solidify his first round status.

Kelce had 722 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in 2012.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.