Chiefs are a year too late addressing WR void

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. suggested this week that the Kansas City Chiefs should select multiple wide receivers in next year's NFL draft. While that's an excellent idea, I wonder whether the Chiefs aren't a year too late in getting to that strategy.

The Chiefs are 7-6 and their playoff hopes are in danger in large part because of a lack of productivity from their wide receivers. The Chiefs are last in the league in catches (102), yards (1,211) and touchdowns (0) from their wide outs. Their longest pass play is 41 yards, which is the smallest such play in the league.

Wide receivers have only been the intended receiver for the Chiefs 170 times, again the lowest number in the league. That suggests that at least part of the blame goes to quarterback Alex Smith and his aversion to risk-taking. Pass protection has also been lousy this season, and Smith frequently doesn't have the time to look for plays down the field.

Still, it begs the question whether the Chiefs should have used their first-round pick last year on a wide receiver instead of Auburn linebacker Dee Ford. His production and playing time have been minimal this season.

Meanwhile, among the receivers available when the Chiefs selected Ford were Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. Both are having nice rookie seasons. Benjamin has 59 catches and nine touchdowns for Carolina, Matthews 56 and seven for Philadelphia.

Either set of statistics would be leading the Chiefs. However, because of the problems mentioned earlier, those players might not be having the same impact as with their current teams. But they'd still be helping.

The Chiefs don't and shouldn't draft with an eye on just the one season. Ford is still an important player with an eye on the future. He is insurance in case Tamba Hali's play declines or Justin Houston doesn't like being the franchise player and doesn't sign his deal.

“Dee Ford . . . maybe he hasn’t paid huge dividends this year but could obviously moving forward,'' Kiper said. "That pick will look a lot better if that plays out like that.’’

But the Chiefs can't afford to ignore their void at wide receiver any more. They need to find at least one Benjamin or Matthews in next year''s draft.