To the frustration of many of their fans, the Kansas City Chiefs did not draft a wide receiver. They did grab Oregon’s diminutive De’Anthony Thomas in the fourth round and though he played a lot of running back in college, he could figure prominently in the playing rotation at slot receiver
But other than the additions of Thomas, a similarly-sized acquisition from the Canadian Football League in Weston Dressler and, so far, a couple of undrafted free agents, the Chiefs are largely the same at wide receiver as they were last year. That’s minus Dexter McCluster, who was third on the team in catches before leaving as a free agent for the Tennessee Titans.
The Chiefs may sign a veteran receiver before they start training camp, but for now we’ll go with what we know. Here’s a look at their depth chart at wide receiver as I see it.
No. 1, Dwayne Bowe. Bowe had the worst full statistical season of his career last year before turning in a huge game in the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Still, it’s natural to wonder whether the inevitable downhill slide all receivers face has begun for Bowe. He turns 30 in September and for a lot of players at his position that’s the beginning of the end.
No. 2, Donnie Avery. Avery was inconsistent in his first season with the Chiefs. He had three big games and was largely absent for the others. He dropped too many passes. But that’s been the story of Avery’s career, and the Chiefs wisely didn’t expect a whole lot more from him. Avery is fast and unless another player with his speed emerges, he’ll be a part of things again.
No. 3, A.J. Jenkins. The Chiefs are hopeful Jenkins is that player. He’s fast and a former first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, so he has ability for them to work with. He had three catches for 67 yards in his only start last season and then had a big catch in the playoff loss.
No. 4, Junior Hemingway. Hemingway isn’t particularly fast but he’s 225 pounds and uses his size well. The Chiefs have gotten some use from Hemingway as a slot receiver, particularly when inside the opponents’ 20. He’s also a good special-teams player, so while I don’t consider Hemingway a lock to make the roster, he’ll be difficult to beat out.
No. 5, De’Anthony Thomas. He has the size and skills much like those of McCluster, except he’s much faster so the Chiefs will give Thomas a long look as their slot receiver. The Chiefs need to find a way to get the ball to Thomas because he’s their fastest player and a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
No. 6, Frankie Hammond Jr. The Chiefs kept Hammond around last season as an undrafted rookie for a reason. He is fast and also has enough ability for them to work with and try to develop. If he makes progress, there’s an opening for some playing time.
No. 7, Weston Dressler. The former Canadian League receiver is on the outside looking in after the Chiefs drafted Thomas. The Chiefs don’t need two small players who play the same position and Dressler doesn’t have Thomas’ size or big-play ability. Unless there’s an injury to another player or Dressler shows unexpected ability, he will have a difficult time making it.
No. 8, Kyle Williams. I wasn’t sure exactly where to place Williams, who is coming off knee surgery. If he misses most or all of training camp, he won’t be of much help. But if he returns in time, Williams can help because he’s also fast and has some versatility as a receiver.
No. 9, Albert Wilson. An undrafted rookie, Wilson was a productive college receiver at Georgia State. The practice squad is the best he can probably hope for this year.