Roster Prediction: Wide Receivers

 

The Kansas City Chiefs wasted no time making their first round of cuts. On Sunday, the team parted ways with 14 players ahead of the NFL’s deadline for paring rosters back to 75 players (today). Among those cuts was ten-year veteran wide receiver Terrance Copper. His release was mildly surprising given few available spots at the position and the consistency of his special teams contributions.

The deadline for trimming NFL rosters to 53 players is August 31 at 5pm (Eastern). With my failed predictions in 2012 behind me, I’m ready to get back on the horse. I’ll spare you a reminder about the two things I completely whiffed on last season. Today’s a new day so let’s look ahead, shall we?

Without further ado, here are my 2013 wide receiver roster predictions:

1. Andy Reid will keep six wide receivers.

In three of the past five seasons, Andy Reid has taken six wide receivers into the regular season. The top three spots will go to Kansas City’s X, Y, and Z receivers. The bottom three slots will go to A.J. Jenkins (who the team is essentially wed to because of his $1.8m cap hit in 2013) and two players who will contribute on special teams. I suspect one of them will be an important member of the Chiefs’ return rotation. One of the bottom three needs to be a reliable pass-catcher. An injury to either Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery would leave the receiver corps perilously thin.

2. Four of the six spots are already spoken for.

Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster, and A.J. Jenkins are all safe. Jon Baldwin’s unceremonious exit from Kansas City punched the ticket for both Avery and Jenkins to start the year. McCluster is the incumbent in the slot and ostensibly a favorite of new head coach Andy Reid. Dex’s quickness, speed, and route-running ability are all conducive to him having success inside. Even with a waiver wire signing I expect little change to the top four spots. Unless they’re in the market for a player like Brandon Lloyd, the jobs to be had are at the bottom of the position group.

3. Richardson/Hemingway/Wylie are battling for the remaining two jobs.

Terrance Copper was the only name in the first round of cuts that caught my eye. He’s been such a big contributor to special teams in years past, he been a safe bet to make the team as a 5th or 6th wide receiver. Apparently, Andy Reid (and possibly Dave Toub) had a different idea. It’s possible that the team wanted to get younger at the bottom of the receiver corps. It’s also reasonable to think they may want a bigger offensive contribution. That leaves just three young players to vie for the final two spots: Junior Hemingway, Devon Wylie, and Rico Richardson.

Here are the preseason stat lines for each player:

Wylie – 5 catches, 52 receiving yards, 0 TDs | 10 returns, 237 return yards, 0 TDs

Hemingway – 4 catches, 36 receiving yards, 1 TD | 1 special teams tackle

Richardson – 2 catches, 22 receiving yards, 1 TD | 1 return, 16 return yards, 0 TDs

In terms of sheer production, Devon Wylie has been the most productive. He has nearly 300 all-purpose yards through three games. Wylie is the most valuable player, in the trio, to Toub’s return group. The other two players’ main contributions have been on offense and in special teams coverage. Hemingway and Richardson own two of the three offensive touchdowns Kansas City has scored this preseason. Both touchdowns were meaningful. In Saturday night’s contest with the Steelers, Hemingway saw time with the first team and caught a game-tying touchdown to end the first half. Richardson caught the 15-yard game-winning touchdown in overtime.

Thursday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers should prove dramatic for these three receivers fighting for the final two roster spots at the position. Lucky for them, the starters figure to play little if at all in the final preseason game. There should be plenty of time for them to make one last impression on Andy Reid.

4. It’s possible that John Dorsey will bring another wide receiver in.

Free agents like Brandon Lloyd and Laurent Robinson are just a phone call away if general manager John Dorsey has any reservations about the current group. The Chiefs are a few hundred thousand over the cap, but that figures to change in the coming days. Lloyd and Robinson are unlikely to fetch much more than the vet minimum on the open market. If necessary, Kansas City may be able to move things around to get one of them signed. I won’t be shocked at all to see a wide receiver added to the roster by the weekend.

If it were up to me, my six receivers would be: Bowe, Avery, McCluster, Jenkins, Hemingway, and Wylie. With some luck, the Chiefs will be able to sneak Rico Richardson onto their practice squad.

Am I in the ballpark with these predictions, Addicts? I’d love for you to have your take in the comment section below. As always, we appreciate your readership and support!

Until next time, Addicts!

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