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Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) makes a catch while being defended by Indianapolis Colts defensive back Josh Gordy (27), but was unable to keep in bounds during the fourth quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver Or Tight End - What's KC's Priority?

The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off of one of the most exciting turnarounds in team history, and optimism abounds.  Most believe that another off season under general manager John Dorsey will again improve the team, and the Chiefs will be in contention once again next year. This assumption is completely fair, given the extreme hype before the 2012 season and the eventual redemption of the 2013 team. The Chiefs – for the most part — are in good shape personnel-wise. With a few upgrades to a roster already stacked with pro-bowlers, Dorsey can continue to build on his 2013 success.

Most, if not all fans are clamoring for additions at wide receiver this offseason.  I would agree that this is a huge area of need. However, I propose that tight end is at least as big, if not a larger area of need. Here’s what the stats say about Kansas City’s top six pass-catchers in 2013. I’ve ranked them in order of targets to display the team’s attempted usage of the player.

Dwayne Bowe – 105 Targets (38th), 57 Receptions, 673 yards, 5 TDs

In 2013, three NFL players were targeted 105 times: Tennessee Titans Nate Washington, Bowe and San Diego Chargers rookie Keenan Allen. Of those players, Bowe had the least amount of receptions (57). Nate Washington ended with one more reception (58), and Keenan Allen blew them both out, by catching 71 balls. Of the three players, Bowe was farthest behind in yards with 673 versus Washington’s 919 and Keenan Allen’s 1,406. Bowe also lagged behind in YAC as well, racking up 197 yards after catch compared to Washington’s 203 and Allen’s 367.

Bowe ranked 56th in the NFL in receptions this past season, and 38th when compared to just the NFL’s wide receivers. Seven teams had more than one wide receiver catch more passes than Dwayne Bowe (CHI, DEN, PIT, TEN, GB, ATL, ARI).

After signing the contract Bowe signed last offseason, this kind of output was unacceptable. Bowe should have at least had numbers more comparable to Keenan Allen’s. At the end of the season, it looked as though Bowe and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith were beginning to build a bit more chemistry, but boy did it take a while. These kind of numbers from your No. 1 receiver should only reinforce the Chiefs’ need for a dynamic receiver.

Jamaal Charles – 104 Targets (41st), 70 (rec, 693 yards, 7 TDs

What can you say? Jamaal is a stud. Charles was fifth in receptions by a running back in the NFL this season. His target-to-catch ratio is much higher than Bowe’s, but some of that can be attributed to his position; Charles saw more uncontested passes as he ran routes out of the backfield. I love that Charles led the team in receptions, but I also hate it. It reinforces the fact that Jamaal is an incredible football player, but also speaks to how weak the Chiefs receiving corps truly is.

Dexter McCluster – 81 Targets (73rd), 53 rec, 511 yards, 2 TDs

Every year, teams lose players they don’t necessarily want to lose. McCluster is a good candidate to be that guy this year. Coming off of a pro-bowl year and offering teams extra value as a returner, McCluster is likely to see a nice paycheck this spring, and Clark Hunt might not be the guy signing that check.

Let’s be honest, Dex made the Pro-Bowl for his punt-return skills, and rightfully so. His ability to contribute to the offense is noticeable, but also noticeably limited. I don’t see McCluster ever exploding for any more than 60 catches 6-700 yards and 5-6 touchdowns. I think that’s his absolute ceiling. Plus, the numbers he put up this year came on 81 targets. I highly doubt he’ll see that many targets on another team next year, therefore I also highly doubt his ability to have a season better than the one he had this year.

With a rising price tag, I expect the Chiefs to let Dex go and give newbie Weston Dressler a shot to replace him at a much lower price.

Donnie Avery – 72 targets (94th), 40 rec, 596 yards, 2 TDs

Some are speculating that Avery could be a cap casualty this year. While Avery isn’t a superstar, he does have value in the Kansas City Offense, and seems to have the make-up of a typical Andy Reid receiver. Avery didn’t light the world on fire this year, nor do I expect him to. I would be fine with Avery as KC’s third receiver in 2014, and I don’t think his salary kills the team. However, if he’s the starter across from Bowe next year, I won’t be happy.

Sean McGrath  – 40 targets (169th), 26 rec, 302 yards, 2 touchdowns

Yes, Sean McGrath was plucked from Seattle Seahawks scrap heap and filled in for the Chiefs when they desperately needed him to. Yes, he has the greatest beard in team history. Yes, he made the most of his chances, and became a fan favorite. Do I want him to play a huge role in the 2014 offense?

Absolutely not.

Why? Because that would mean someone was injured, didn’t live up to expectations or worst of all, the Chiefs haven’t tried to improve at the position.

I know, I know. You guys love him. But, look at his numbers. They simply aren’t that great. As an out-of-nowhere, lower end of the pay scale, reserve player that played well when he had to, I’ll take him. Heck, I’ll take him on special teams. But he’s not dynamic and he’s not the answer at tight end.

Anthony Fasano – 33 targets (194th), 23 rec, 200 yards, 3 TDs

I like Anthony Fasano. I think he’s tough, has good hands for a bigger boy, and he seems to be an adept blocker. But just like McGrath, he’s merely a serviceable player. Nothing more, nothing less.

Fasano and McGrath’s combined numbers (49 rec, 502 yards, 5 TDs) look a lot like any middle-of-the-road TE’s numbers. With two “okay” players at tight end (arguably Alex Smith’s favorite position), the Chiefs got “okay” results. Second-year player Travis Kelce could prove to be the answer in this spot, but we simply do not know. I don’t think the Chiefs would be smart to plan on entering next season with McGrath, an oft-injured Anthony Fasano and an unknown in Travis Kelce. They have to get a dynamic presence in the middle of the field.

So what would I do? Easier said than done of course, but if I were John Dorsey I’d sign a WR or two (Probably two, with at least one of the following: Julian Edelman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon LaFell, or Hakeem Nicks) and I would be determined to draft either Jace Amaro or Eric Ebron in the first round.

What do you think Addicts? Wide-out? Tight end? Both? Sound off below.

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Tags: Anthony Fasano Dexter McCluster Donnie Avery Dwayne Bowe Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs Sean McGrath

  • andy

    Yikes, we scored an average of 31 points afterthe bye week. We did not go 2 and 6 because of our offense. Fix the glaring weakness on defense first.

    • toperspective

      Agree. We need both a WR and a TE but defense is the glaring problem.

    • Redblack564

      Yes exactly a rushing DE Or a FS. If one is not available in the 1st round maybe trade out and get a 2nd and a 4th or 5th

  • toperspective

    And where would the money come from to sign those two WR’s? The cap is a bit of a problem.

    • P Heitman

      Well, for starters we just cut Dunta Robinson lol

      • toperspective

        They cut him today. Provides about 3M in cap space. If they are going to sign any of their FA’s (Schwartz, Asamoah, McCluster, Abdullah, Demps, etc) they’ll need some more space. I assume Albert and Jackson are gone.

        • P Heitman

          FA’s who will probably walk –

          Branden Albert

          Dexter McCluster

          Kendrick Lewis

          Quinten Demps

          Tyson Jackson

          Jon Asamoah

          Akeem Jordan

          Anthony Toribio

          Possible Cuts/Trades -

          Dunta Robinson – Cut today

          Donnie Avery

          Tamba Hali

          Anthony Fasano

          Possible Restructures -

          Tamba Hali

          Anthony Fasano

          Eric Barry

          Brandon Flowers

          Dwayne Bowe

          Alex Smith

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            No way the cut or trade Tamba. If anything Flowers will get traded because he doesn’t fit in the defense anymore.

          • P Heitman

            I definitely don’t think they’ll trade Tamba, nor do I think they should, but his contract is high and restructuring could really help out the team.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            Restructuring, yes. Trade, no reason for that.

            But like I said, if anyone gets traded it should be Flowers.

  • Royals_Fan

    TE. Our defense was hurt towards the end of the year which is why they Flowers and Smith were huge let downs this year. But who are you drafting at the 23rd pick? Dix, Dennard and Pryor won’t fall that far and the same for Gilbert and if take him over the other three. The likelyhood of having those players at the 23rd pick is very unlikely, so who would you take for defense with the 23rd pick?

    The Chiefs should go for Maclin in FA. He’d be relatively inexpensive because he’s coming off injury (he isn’t injury prone so don’t start that) and try to get TE and Secomdary in the draft.

    23rd pick – Ebron or Amaro
    3rd round pick – Kieth McGill from Utah
    4th pick – Micheal Sam from Mizzou
    5th-7th pick is finding diamonds in the rough

  • berttheclock

    The Denver Broncos had the most prolific offense in the history of the NFL. Anyone notice how they fared in the Super Bowl when they ran into a defensive unit which would have destroyed any of the other 31 teams? Funny how when anyone ever mentions the ’85 Bears or the Ravens in their first SB, the word “game manager” is attached to their respective QBs. The reason given was their wins were due to having tremendous defenses and not the ability of their respective QBs. Alex Smith became better as he grew comfortable in the system and he was able to put up more points down the stretch. Yes, the Chiefs need both a younger and more productive TE and a wide out who can get open and fly. But, until the defensive unit is vastly improved, especially at safety and in producing a reliable pass rusher from the defensive line, they will never be serious contenders for the Super Bowl.

    Working on the offense alone reminds me of the Gene Autry of the Los Angeles Angels raving about picking up a hard hitting infielder and Reggie Jackson. He kept crowing about the Angels having the capacity to score 8 or 9 runs. The major problem with that is that they had a pitching staff which ended up giving up 10 to 11 runs. Defense wins championships. The offense is just the icing on the cake.

    • P Heitman

      I agree the defensive backfield could use some help. And they’re going to get it with all of the guys leaving. Honestly, I just wish Bob Sutton would play his All-Pro safety at safety. The guy basically plays linebacker. Just because Berry can hit, doesn’t mean that’s the best place to put him. He was an All American playing center field.

      • berttheclock

        Playing center field can really help one learn to play safety far better I had checked out Reynolds, the safety from Stanford, to see if he had played center field. No, he hadn’t, but, one of their running backs was the center fielder for the Stanford baseball team.

        I believe Flowers ended up being out of his better Cover Two element. One of the reasons Berry plays, as you say, more of a LB, is the Chiefs really don’t have a tough thumper to jam TEs. Last year, when, Berry was still recovering from his injuries, he couldn’t handle TEs such as Gates. This year he looked more like Thomas of the Seahawks in smashing into them. But, he really needs a strong consistent partner back there playing safety. I am worried Commings twice injured shoulder might allow him to really match his potential and he is a center fielder.

    • Calchiefsfan

      Reminds me of Dick Vermeil. I think Dorsey and Reid understand balance better than Vermeil and Peterson. The right DC is paramount to their success.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Honestly neither WR or TE in the first. We need to shore up our defense. The abysmal reception numbers were due in great part to Smith getting used to Reid’s system. Remember how everyone was complaining about captain checkdown? Not a good situation for Bowe or any of the receivers to thrive in. It all started coming together at the end of the season and culminated with Smith’s 378 yards passing and 119.7 passer rating, Bowe’s 150 yards the Indy game.

    I vote that we go with defense and hope it wasn’t Sutton’s schemes but a lack of talent that caused the Chiefs downfall. (I think I’m only kidding myself on that one though).

    • micah stephenson

      I don’t think it was lack of talent. Sutton shuda been playing cover 2 or prevent the 2nd half. I’m sure he has learned his lesson.

      • Calchiefsfan

        I hope so or it’s going to be a long season for Chiefs fans.

    • Tyler_KC_Fan

      So being realistic, who are you drafting with the 23rd pick on the defensive side? Ever Mock Draft has Dix, Pryor, Dennard and Gilbert going before we draft. Dee Ford will be gone. So who’s left, that’s a non risk first round pick, for the defense who is going to make an impact on the team in the first year?

      • Calchiefsfan

        At this point I don’t have the slightest idea. I’m waiting on the combine and just see how things play out. The thing is most of the draft picks aren’t going to have a big impact their first year. Most wide receivers and tight ends take a year or two to develop. Poe, Fisher, Houston, (I know he wasn’t a first rounder), Baldwin was a bust. Eric Berry was the only one to play well his first year in the last 5 years. I’m not saying I would be bummed if we took a guy like Benjamin or Ebron, I just believe it’s our defense that is a critical need. Of course a lot of it could be Sutton’s schemes. It will be interesting to see if Dorsey holds true to best player available. I’ll go ahead and commit though. If a CB, safety or DE is one of the best players available then that is a direction I would prefer. So Donald, Gilbert, Dix or Pryor would all be good additions if available. Mock drafts at this time of year change a lot by draft day.

  • Bigchief

    The chiefs didn’t loose to the colts because of the offence The d was the problem

    • micah stephenson

      The D wasn’t the problem when they were taking the ball away from the colts and setting up the offense with easy scores. I didnt see much offense or defense in the 2nd half of the colts game.

      • Troy Utt

        So does the offense need to put 88 on the board in order for the game to be safe for the D??? It’s a crying shame that the average point per game scored in the NFL is 27 during the regular season & the D is expected to pitch in at some point there after… Dang the Chiefs are gonna have to put up basketball numbers in order to hang if they play by Micah’s standards!!! LOL When are some going to get a grip!

        • micah stephenson

          The offense needs to score how ever many pts it takes to win the game. Some days they might only haft to score 10 pts and sometimes they might have to score 50. Its a team game Sometimes one side of the ball has to do more or less. And yes if the offense played my stardards the other team will need to score over 30 pts to have a chance. I would also build my d not to give up more than around 17-21. Occasionally the D will get beat and give up 30 or more, those are the days I need my offense to say “I got yo back, we got this”

          • Troy Utt

            That’s just it…The offense scored more than enough points to win the game! It’s not often you see a defense give up that many points, thats why in doing so it was called HISTORIC! Another record they now own…
            Micah love ya to death as a fan brother, but youv’e painted yourself into a corner on this… Arguing both sides of the fence!
            When it’s a close game or low scoring affair you say it’s all because of the defense. Then come next week & a high scoring game you tell us it’s a “team game” & the offense needs to score more!
            2013 was a tale of two season’s for the “team.” The first half playing the softer schedule the offense got by, & the D looked like champs. Come the second half & the stiffer competition the offense got progressively better & the D fell flat!
            We can argue X’s,O’s, & injuries all day but there were both impacting the offense & defense at inopportune times during the season.
            You often speak of “BUILDING” your team..Your D, Your QB.
            I’m not sure if that is in Madden? or if mean’t to be in a perfect world? It just doesn’t work that way in the NFL. There are no filters, or options to turn-off the salary cap, & there certainly is no fantasy draft which will allow us to nab that other QB!
            You are the last of those once pulling a wagon against Alex Smith. Honestly I believe you are just embarrassed and afraid to admit that he to won you over during the course of the season. It’s time to come out of the closet!
            Submit that photo to Jason of you in your Alex Smith #11 game day jersey & I’m sure he will be happy to post it here on AA…
            We love you for what you are Micah… A Chief fan!!!

        • micah stephenson

          They obviously needed to do more than what they did. And like I said, I didn’t see much offense or defense in the 2nd half.

    • P Heitman

      I have my doubts that there is a safety in this draft (at the 23rd pick) that will fix the D’s problem, especially in his first year. The issues were more than Quintin Demps’ bad angles. The scheme needs to evolve and they need to find someone other than Berry to play on the line of scrimmage every play. In my opinion, one of Sutton’s biggest mistakes was taking his All Pro safety and sticking him at the LOS so often. That forced him to use Lewis and Demps as deep safeties regularly.

      There are a few solid safeties slated to become free agents. Wide receivers, too. But if you look at TE, there’s literally no one that excites me. Our TE production was awful, and I think that a dynamic TE could be extremely effective in this offense with Alex at the helm.

      It was a tale of two teams really, and to bank on the offense being set after a solid second half would be just as foolish as banking on the defense to be set after their amazing first half. Both sides need attention, and I think we’re incredibly weak at WR. Our Best WR, as I mention in the article, was 56th in receptions. That’s terrible, especially after giving the guy top-tier money. And our TE’s are dry toast. No team in the NFL fears Sean McGrath or Anthony Fasano.

      • Troy Utt

        Paul, I must say that I agree with you about Berry! He should NOT be cheating up & playing on or that close to the line of scrimmage! He belongs back in the secondary, thus when he does cheat up it catches the offense off guard / over-loads them!!!

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

    I would not touch Nicks with a 10 foot pole.

    • KCMikeG

      Agreed on Nicks. LaFell is a head case, Maclin coming off an ACL and none of them bring anything to the return game. Throw Avery into that same bucket and tell me again why we can’t keep McCluster?

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        So you think Maclin would be worse then what we have? You’re right, he’s coming off an ACL injury. Which, if I’m a beating man, means he could come pretty cheap. We need WRs. Maclin and Reid have great chemistry a AND Maclin is going to play his best year to prove he’s back. Maclin is better then Avery, McCluster, Hemmingway, Jenkins and I’d even throw Bowe in the mix. Dressler will be a solid slot WR, but doesn’t become a game changer. Maclin can do just that, if not help elevate Bowe and Dressler’s game because Maclin is a deep threat.

        Before his ACL injury, Maclin missed 5 games in 4 years. I’ll take that any day.

  • Bruce Hurford

    Exactly right, upgrade our D backs and add someone to actually require a double team somewhere on the line.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    This team’s biggest need offensively is at wide receiver. The tight end position is solid. It was just ravaged by injuries in 2013.

    • Tyler_KC_Fan

      I wouldn’t say solid. Kelce hasn’t played so we don’t know what he will do. McGrath was good, but not a TE you want ever game, more of a back up in my mind. Fasono can’t stay healthy for a quarter of a year and he’s always been like that.

      If Ebron is there at 23 we would be foolish to pass on him. The most talented TE in a few years. TEs can be huge game changers, just look at the Patriots and what they had in Hernandez and Gronk. Even this year, when Gronk was in the Patriots were very dangerous.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        This was an odd year for Fasano. He normally plays 14-15 games a season. That’s why I’m less concerned about that position. Had our tight ends been healthy and stunk, I’d be concerned. Fasano and McGrath basically split the season numbers I would’ve expected from a healthy Fasano. I would consider a tight end in Round 1, but FS and WR are higher priorities in my book.

        • Tyler_KC_Fan

          I agree on the FS and WR. But if the Chiefs get Maclin I don’t see a need to take a WR first. As for FS, Gilbert, Pryor, Dix and Dennard are the top 4 guys in the draft. We are to far back to get either. I’d take Gilbert over the other 3 but they look to be top 20 maybe 15 picks. That’s why I like Keith McGill from Utah in the 3rd round. Take Ebron or Amaro at 23 and McGill at 87. This is what I would do only if we sign Maclin, otherwise I have a hard time passing on a WR at 23.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            If we sign Maclin, I wouldn’t draft a receiver until the middle rounds. I think Calvin Pryor could be there at 23. I’d take him over a tight end.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            If one of the top seconday players is still there I would be more inclined to take him, but if Ebron is there..he might be to good to pass on.

  • calciomoti

    Free Safety is the biggest need…doesn’t mean we draft that first unless the BPA is in fact a fs which it probably won’t be. So, best te or wr available when we pick.