KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs got more than they had a right to expect last season from Tyreek Hill, a fifth-round draft pick who played just one year of major college football. Hill finished the season as the Chiefs’ runaway leader in touchdowns with 12 and was second on the team in pass receptions with 61.
But Hill was a rookie last season, just learning how to play. The Chiefs are expecting even more from him next season.
“Growing Tyreek in the offense will be important," coach Andy Reid told reporters this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.
Hill played 401 offensive snaps last season, or less than 40 percent of Kansas City’s plays. But the Chiefs came to rely on him more as the season progressed. He was in their lineup for fewer than 20 plays in each of the first six games but more than 20 in the final 10.
Hill was learning to become a receiver, a position he played only on a part-time basis in college.
“He was a running back that they kind of moved around a little bit," Reid said. “His routes when he first came were kind of raw. They weren’t as disciplined as they need to be in this offense. So much of this offense is timing and being in a certain spot and knowing defenses, knowing secondaries and all that, how you’re going to make adjustments. That was all new. He is a smart kid. He picked it up so fast, and he was able to play at our level."
Of Hill’s 401 snaps, 207 came as a wide receiver, 163 as a slot receiver and 31 out of the backfield. Most of those backfield snaps came late in the season after the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles to injury. The Chiefs needed Hill's speed, and he delivered two touchdown runs of at least 68 yards in the final three games.
The Chiefs have since released Charles and haven't done anything to address their shortage of speed out of the backfield, other than adding veteran C.J. Spiller, who is trying to rejuvenate his career after playing for three teams last season.
Reid indicated the Chiefs weren’t looking to increase Hill’s playing time as a running back.
“We didn’t use him a ton back there, [because] he’s not a real big guy," Reid said of Hill, who is 186 pounds. “The receiving part, we’re going to focus on that and get him more reps in that area. But he can do that other part.
“He’ll do nothing but get better as long as he keeps the right attitude and the same work ethic he had this past year. ... He’s traditionally been, for us, a very hard worker, very diligent, wanted to do the right things. I wouldn’t expect that to change. I’m expecting good things from him."