The Kansas City Chiefs have a plethora of talented tight ends on their roster, but that didn’t stop them from gauging the free-agent market prior to their regular-season opener. The defending AFC champions worked out tight end and former Baylor basketball defensive stud Mark Vital on Friday, per the NFL’s transaction wire.
Vital converted to playing football just recently. After playing in the NBA summer league with the Portland Trail Blazers, Vital — who has not played football since middle school — announced on Twitter on August 30 that he would be attempting to play in the NFL.
“It’s really his competitiveness, just his talent athletically. He’s an extremely ferocious competitor. He’s got natural talent as far as catching the ball,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said on September 6 of signing Vital to the practice squad, via Matty Brown of FanNation’s SeahawkMaven. “Hand-eye stuff is excellent. Catching range is excellent. He’s got a million things to learn, but we thought we’d take a shot, see how he goes and see if he’s able to pick it up. He’s gonna have to pick things up quickly because otherwise he won’t catch up.
“So we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt right now, he’s as new as you can get, you know? I probably should call that eighth grade coach and just check out, see what what he though of him, you know? But I probably won’t be able to track him down. He’s a very special athlete and talent, and let’s see if this, if he can make sense of it and put some of the skills that he’s brought from his other game and from his other competition and put it to work here.”
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Baylor Big 12 All-Defender
Having just recently made the transition to the NFL, Vital’s athleticism helped him make a name for himself at Baylor University on the basketball court. As a senior, Vital was selected to the All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Defensive Teams and led the Bears to their first Big 12 Championship as well as their first National Championship in program history, per the team’s official website. He was a semifinalist for the second straight year for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year as well. Vital currently holds the program record for the most Big 12 victories with 45, handily breaking the previous record of 39.
Chiefs’ TE Situation
As it stands, Kansas City is in a rare situation regarding their tight end room. Of the 53 players they currently have on their roster, four of them are tight ends. That’s typically 1-2 more than an NFL team will typically have on the active roster. The four tight ends the Chiefs have on the active roster are Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Noah Gray, and Jody Fortson.
Having Kelce, Bell, and Gray on the roster makes sense, as they are an All-Pro, a sound, blocking tight end, and a drafted rookie, respectively. However, Fortson is also on the roster due to his hard work this offseason when he transitioned from being a wide receiver to a tight end. He battled for a spot on the active roster after two years of only making the practice squad, and he accomplished his mission this year.
“It’s God is good man. I’ve put a lot of time into this and there were a lot of days that this wouldn’t come, but I had to stay true to it,” Fortson told the media on the NFL’s roster cutdown day this summer. “I just kept working and here we are. I know there’s so much more work to do, but I was told to take my small victories as well and cherish them. So, it’s just been a long road, it’s been a long road.”
Bringing in Vital for a workout was likely Kansas City showing a bit of curiosity in what the newly-converted NFL player has for ability. It’s also worth noting that the Chiefs do not have a tight end currently on their 16-man practice squad.