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?
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.