Kansas City Chiefs: Previewing the Wide Receiver Position


Plain and simple, the Kansas City Chiefs’ receiving core under-performed last season. Tight end Travis Kelce led the team in receptions with 67, receiving yards with 862 and tied for the team lead with running back Jamaal Charles with five touchdown receptions.

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The only player at the wide receiver position even close to the top of any the Chiefs’ receiving leaders was Dwayne Bowe, and his 60 reception, 754 yard season-long performance came with a team-high 96 targets. We can blame quarterback Alex Smith for always checking down, and we can also blame the offensive line for not giving Smith enough time, but no matter how you look at it, the Chiefs’ wide receivers simply did not get the job done last season.

General manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid put an emphasis on the position this off season, and improvement should immediately be expected. They did not waste any time, as early in the free agent period the Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin, who will replace Bowe (who was released by the team this off season) at the top of the wide receiver depth chart.

Maclin is coming off of the best season of his career where he hauled in 85 receptions for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Philadelphia Eagles. Maclin’s impressive 2014 season comes after a torn ACL held him out of the entire 2013 season.

Maclin returned in a big way for the Eagles, showing the same speed, quickness and athleticism that he had before the injury. Maclin is a legitimate deep threat with great route running skills, consistent hands and a natural ability to make plays after the catch. His addition to the Chiefs will undoubtedly make a huge impact on the field right away.

The other major addition to the receiving core this off season comes in the form of third-round pick Chris Conley, whose combination of size (6-foot-2, 213 pounds), speed (4.35 40-yard dash) and athleticism (45″ vertical leap) makes him an incredibly intriguing player at the position.

Dec 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Chris Conley (31) catches a pass for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Louisville Cardinals of the Belk Bowl held at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Based on his raw skills, Conley has major upside at the next level. Unfortunately, he has yet to put it all together on the field. Conley showed great big-play upside as a senior last season, but his 36 receptions for 657 yards leaves plenty to be desired. Conley struggles as a route runner and has very inconsistent hands.

His ability alone makes him a very intriguing player, but a very raw one at that. With proper coaching, Conley can certainly grow into a very productive player, but it may take some time. Do not pencil him into the starting line-up just yet.

My favorite to start opposite of Maclin at the beginning of the season is second-year receiver Albert Wilson. While he certainly does lack size at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Wilson shows great speed, quickness and the natural ability to shake defenders.

Wilson made an impact for the Chiefs late last season, finishing with 16 receptions for 260 yards. His play was inconsistent, but Wilson’s speed and change of direction quickness proved to be tough for opposing defensive backs to defend. Wilson showed the ability beat the defense deep, but Smith and Chase Daniel were never able to connect with him for the big one. With so little talent for the Chiefs at the position in recent memory, Wilson was a fresh change of pace as a guy who actually showed the ability to get open.

Dec 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver

Albert Wilson

(12) carries the ball as Oakland Raiders cornerback

D.J. Hayden

(25) tackles in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Junior Hemingway, Jason Avant and Frankie Hammond are some under-performing receivers who will help fill out the position. Each of them represent a little bit of upside going forward, but do not expect much out of them besides roster depth.

The Chiefs selected another receiver in the seventh round of the 2015 draft in Da’Ron Brown of Northern Illinois. Brown is a very sure-handed receiver who has above average quickness. He does lack pure speed and athleticism, but Brown has a chance to be a consistent target for the Chiefs going forward. His upside is limited, but Brown’s consistent catching ability is certainly something that would be welcomed to the Chiefs’ inconsistent receiving core.

If you are looking for a deep roster upside play, look no further than Da’Rick Rogers, who the Chiefs signed on a reserve-future contract late last season. Rogers is a very physically gifted player who has nice size for the position at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds.

Rogers is a former five-star recruit who broke out on the college scene with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore at Tennessee in 2011. He was suspended at Tennessee after failing multiple drug tests, and ended up having a successful season without any off-field issues with Tennessee Tech the next year.

Rogers entered the 2013 draft, and impressed athletically at the combine. Despite his impressive athleticism, Rogers went undrafted before eventually landing with the Indianapolis Colts.

He spent most of his first season on the Colts’ practice squad before making a significant impact with the team late in the season. Rogers hauled in 14 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns in five games with the Colts in 2013, and even hauled in a huge 46-yard reception in their 45-44 playoff victory over the Chiefs.

Aug 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts receiver

Da’Rick Rogers

(16) scores a first half touchdown against the New York Giants in a pre season game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Rogers found himself in trouble once again before last season as he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. This caused the Colts to cut the troubled receiver, and he did not play a down in the NFL last season.

Expecting Rogers to make a huge impact on the Chiefs this season would not be wise, as he must prove that he can stay out of trouble first. That being said, he is a very talented player who could easily find himself in the mix if he can keep his nose clean. Big upside here.

While the Chiefs receiving core is far from one of the best in the league, they at least have some talent at the position now. Maclin is as close to a sure thing as there is, and I fully expect him to make a huge impact with his new team next season. Wilson seems ready to make an impact, and his upside is very intriguing.

Conley and Rogers are the guys with the pure talent who have the potential to quickly turn this position into a strength. If one of them reaches their upside this season, the Chiefs could become a very dangerous team in the passing game.

A huge majority of the talent is far from polished, but the Chiefs finally have a group of receivers who are talented enough to make a big difference. Whether they will or not, remains to be seen.

Next: 2015 NFL Draft: Grades for all of the Chiefs' Selections

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