The offseason roster review for the Kansas City Chiefs finishes out the offensive side of the ball today with a look at the receivers. Defensively, all that’s remaining is the linebackers and links to other positional reviews are below. In each case, the Kansas City personnel is evaluated vis-à-vis that in rival AFC West franchises.
Dwayne Bowe gives Kansas City a solid, if unspectacular #1 receiver. His 81 catches were easily the highest in the AFC West. While his 14.3 yards-per-catch average doesn’t blow you away, it’s still solid. ESPN’s Scouts Inc. likes Bowe’s physical strength, both breaking tackles and making plays in traffic. He’s flanked by Steve Breaston who’s become a good #2 receiver since his days in part-time duty at Arizona. With 61 catches, he was third in the division and joins Bowe in giving KC a pair of tough receivers over the middle. The third option is Jonathan Baldwin, who saw limited time in his rookie year. Because of Dexter McCluster’s pass-catching skills out of the backfield a third receiver isn’t strictly necessary, but Baldwin has tremendous natural talent and size and could become the deep threat this offense could use to loosen things up.
Denver didn’t win the division on the strength of its passing and it shows not only the stats of the wide receivers, but in the scouts’ evaluations. Demaryius Thomas’ polish in route-running is panned, both at the snap and in making adjustments. Eddie Royal doesn’t have great size at 5’10” and can get muscled by physical corners. Eric Decker is the best of the trio, running good routes and having the strength to break tackles after the catch, but that alone won’t suffice for a #1 target.
San Diego, unsurprisingly, has the deepest and most productive corps. Whether that’s due more to Philip Rivers than the talent of Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd & Co., is another matter, given Rivers had the best year of his career in 2010 when everyone was hurt or holding out. The receivers were healthy this year and Rivers struggled. Nonetheless, Jackson is praised by scouts for being deceptively fast and knowing how to use his size. He’ll be an attractive target on the free agent market. Floyd’s YPC is 19.9, the best of any regular receiver in the AFC West, although at age 30, we’ll have to see what happens to his speed. Veteran Patrick Crayton and young Vincent Brown are the complementary pieces and I think Rivers’ track record suggests he could do just as well with either one in the starting lineup, should the team not re-sign Jackson. And given Jackson’s history of clashing with the front office, his departure would seem imminent.
Oakland gets a lot of catches from Darrius Heyward-Bey, whose 64 receptions puts him in between Bowe and Breaston at the top of the division. But he’s more of a possession receiver, rather than a deep threat, and the Raiders need 23-year old Denarius Moore to be more consistent. They could use Jacoby Ford coming into his own and becoming a bigger part of the offense at age 24.
By comparison, Kansas City looks pretty good at this spot. A deep threat wouldn’t hurt, but the potential of Baldwin combined with everything else gives the Chiefs as good a receivers’ corps as anyone.