If there’s one glaring need on offense for the Kansas City Chiefs, it would most certainly be their lack of a true No. 1 wide receiver. Before you even begin to let your mind wander to Dwayne Bowe, keep in mind that he ranked 58th in the NFL in receiving yardage this year behind the likes of Jerome Simpson, Jarrett Boykin and Charles Clay.
Heck, Bowe was barely the second best pass-catcher on his own team, as Alex Smith looked Dexter McCluster‘s way nearly as many times as he did Bowe’s. With Bowe set to earn in the realm of $9 million this upcoming season, it would be in the Chiefs’ best interest to seriously consider going a different direction than the former first-round draft pick.
But even with the release of Bowe, the question would still remain, who could potentially be the Chiefs’ No. 1 wideout in 2014? With this years’ draft class possessing as much talent at the wide receiver position as we’ve seen in quite some time, the Chiefs’ answer likely lies somewhere within May’s draft.
However, with Smith’s lack of a true deep ball and Andy Reid‘s knack for high percentage passes and screens, exactly what type of receiver should Kansas City target? A jump ball receiver with the ability to make big plays downfield or a quick slot receiver who can assist in Reid’s screen and short pass game?
Let’s look at both options, assuming Kansas City goes the wide receiver route in Round 1.
If the Chiefs’ want a deep threat as their No. 1, there should be a plethora of options still left when Kansas City’s pick rolls around late in the first. Assuming Marquise Lee is already off the board, I’d assume Kansas City’s first choice would have to be Kelvin Benjamin, should he choose to declare.
Aside from catching the game-winning pass from Jameis Winston in Monday’s BCS National Championship, Benjamin has been one of the premier deep threats in college football throughout the season. Of the top 50 receivers in college football this season, Benjamin ranked fifth in YPC with 18.7. His size (6-foot-5) and physical style of play would give Kansas City a true downfield receiver that their offense lacked in 2013.
Another possible option for Kansas City would be Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU. At 6-feet tall, Beckham doesn’t have the prototypical size that you’d expect from a deep threat, but still finished second in the NCAA in YPC, trailing only Texas A&M‘s Mike Evans. Beckham isn’t too impressively fast either, but has shown the propensity for ridiculously acrobatic catches this season. Think of him as a reincarnation of Roddy White.
If the Chiefs choose to look for a quicker possession receiver to complement Jamaal Charles and Kansas City’s screen game, there’s really only a couple of ways to go. I’d have to assume the first option would be Brandin Cooks from Oregon State, who led the NCAA with 1730 receiving yards this season.
Cooks is small, but still possesses the ability to lineup outside or in the slot position, which would greatly benefit a Chiefs passing attack that struggled at times in 2013. Cooks is estimated to run a 4.4 40-yard dash, is lightning quick, and would provide a great outlet for Smith as he gains separation from cornerbacks immediately off the ball. Cooks is being under-projected in most mock drafts, and could be a steal for Kansas City.
If the Chiefs can’t grab Cooks, Penn State‘s Allen Robinson would be a fine substitute. Robinson can be a deep threat when he wants to be, but is also extremely dangerous in the screen game. Example No. 1 of this is his ridiculous touchdown reception off a screen against Ohio State, during which he ran the width of the field and back to eventually outrun the entire Buckeye defense for the score. The kid is a playmaker and will be a nightmare for opposing corners wherever he ends up.
If the Chiefs can end up with any of these four talents, I think it would majorly boost their chances at a serious playoff run in 2014. For my money, I’d take Benjamin because of his size and because he has the highest ceiling of the four (no pun intended). Regardless if they utilize him properly or not, just having him on the field will force defenses to respect the deep threat and provide more room for Reid’s offense to prosper.