Sep 28, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (4) makes a jumping catch while being defended by a Ohio State Buckeyes defender during the first quarter at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Chiefs Pass On A First Round Wide Receiver?

ArmchairAddict1

The Kansas City Chiefs need another starting wide receiver to go along with incumbent Dwayne Bowe. This is something that every Chiefs fan can agree upon. As word spread on Saturday evening that KC was out of the running for the services of DeSean Jackson, KC fans were forced to turn their attention back to the NFL draft in their search to find this elusive starting receiver. Donnie Avery didn’t cut it. Jon Baldwin was a bust. Steve Breaston didn’t live up to expectations. Chris Chambers disappointed. Mark Bradley? Samie Parker? There is an endless line of second-rate failures that have lined up across from Bowe in the starting lineup for the Chiefs. None of them stuck (I guess technically, Avery is still on the roster). None of them were productive. None of them were the solution.

On the surface, the solution to this problem seems simple. This draft is loaded with WR talent. Every expert seems to agree that it’s the deepest position in the draft. So the Chiefs have a good chance to finally fill the black hole of production in their wide receiver core by taking the best WR available with their first pick in the NFL draft.

Assuming that the Chiefs stay put at pick #23, there are three prime candidates that they could consider in Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks. While all three are unlikely to still be there, most seem to believe at least one (if not more) will be. They all possess traits that would make them a good fit for Andy Reid’s offense and a good complement to the bigger-bodied Bowe.

Sep 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee (9) sprints down the sideline on his way to an 80-yard touchdown as he is trailed on the sidelines by head coach Lane Kiffin during the second quarter against Boston College at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Problem solved, right?

Possibly, but there is another way to look at this WR draft class. While KC could obviously take a WR with the first pick, I’m not sure that’s actually the best way to get the best value out of the picks that they have. While the Alex Smith trade has worked out well for the Chiefs, it does leave them without a second-round pick in this talent-rich draft. That means that, as things currently stand, KC won’t make their second selection until pick #87 overall. I think most would agree that given KC’s limited cap space and free agent signings that it would be nice for them to get a player with that pick that can contribute as much as possible right away.

The fact that there is such incredible depth in this draft at WR means that it is the position that is most likely to still have a real impact player available when the Chiefs pick in the third round. So there lies the question. Are the Chiefs better off taking the best WR available with the first pick and then addressing positions like guard, safety and defensive front seven players later on, or taking an impact player at one of those positions with their first round pick and then banking on a good WR still being there in the third round?

If the Chiefs could hit on a third-round WR, it would probably be the easiest way to draft two key contributors without a second-round pick.

So who are some of the WRs that may be available in the third round when KC picks? After spending hours scouring the internet for draft rankings, mock drafts, scouting reports, and YouTube videos, I’ve determined that it’s almost impossible to come up with a definitive WR ranking list. There are so many WRs that are legit talents but have different strengths that you will consistently see the same player predicted to go anywhere between the second and fifth rounds.

As far as I can tell, these are 18 WRs that seem to have the best chance to go in the first three rounds:

Sammy Watkins – Clemson
Mike Evans – Texas A&M
Marqise Lee – USC
Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU
Brandin Cooks – Oregon St.
Kelvin Benjamin – FSU
Allen Robinson – Penn St.
Davante Adams – Fresno St.
Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt
Jarvis Landry – LSU
Paul Richardson – Colorado
Donte Moncrief – Ole Miss
Martavis Bryant – Clemson
Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin
Bruce Ellington – South Carolina
Brandon Coleman – Rutgers
Robert Herron – Wyoming
Cody Latimer – Indiana

I don’t envy NFL scouting departments, those are a lot of WRs to scout, and I narrowed the list down to just the guys I think could go in the first three rounds. All of the players listed above were labeled as having starting WR upside (maybe not from day one) by at least one source that I feel is credible. Some are seen as having greater upside, some are seen as “safe,” some are “boom or bust,” some are slot guys, some are deep threats, some are possession receivers. There’s something for everyone on that list.

So who might KC target with the 87th pick? Well, first off they need to have multiple guys that they would be happy with for this plan to work. If you cut that list in half between Jordan Matthews and Jarvis Landry, everyone on the bottom half I would classify as “could fall to KC but could also go before they pick”. I think the first nine on the list will likely all be gone. The good news for Chiefs fans is that I believe that KC would at least consider eight of the nine remaining WRs on that list. Of those nine, the only one I don’t think KC will consider is Rutger’s Brandon Coleman. Coleman is a 6-6, 225 lbs Jon Baldwin clone. He doesn’t fit Andy Reid’s typical WR type and doesn’t seem like a very good compliment to Dwayne Bowe to me at all.

So who are these other eight WRs? Well, as much as I’d like to say that I have a detailed personal scouting report based on hours of game tape for each one, that’s not the case. I have read multiple scouting reports and watched two-three videos (some just highlight tapes) on each one. So below I’ll give you my first impression after doing a little homework on them and then if you’d like to go look them up for yourselves, you can.

Jarvis Landry – LSU – 6-0, 205 lbs

There was once a point when Landry was seen as an equally good prospect as his teammate Odell Beckham Jr., but as scouts watched more tape, Beckham Jr. began to emerge as the bigger playmaker. That was solidified by Landry’s very poor 40 time at the combine (4.77). However, while Landry may not be flashy, he is a consistent and dependable receiver. He runs good routes and does a great job catching the football. While most KC fans want someone to stretch the field more, Landry could be a consistent and reliable target for Alex Smith who throws a lot more short passes than he does deep balls anyway.

Paul Richardson – Colorado – 6-0, 175 lbs

Richardson is absolutely the deep threat that many KC fans are clamoring for. He was timed at the combine at 4.40 in the 40 and he plays every bit that fast, if not faster. His thin, 175-pound frame is his biggest concern. He has had some injury issues and may not be an ideal option for going over the middle against NFL safeties or linebackers. There is a little DeSean Jackson in his game and CBS’s Rob Rang actually compared him to Emmanuel Sanders who we obviously know KC was interested in.

Nov 23, 2013; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Donte Moncrief (12) brings in a reception during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Donte Moncrief – Ole Miss – 6-2, 221 lbs

Moncrief is a player that I’m surprised there hasn’t been more talk about. While he isn’t huge, his 6-2, 221-pound frame is big enough to overpower some NFL DBs while his timed speed is still impressive (4.40 time in the 40 at the combine). His highlights are filled with pretty good routes and some nice grabs. I think in most years Moncrief would be seen as a possible first-round prospect, but has been lost in the shuffle a little this year with all the WR talent. In my opinion, he’s the most complete WR that could be available in the third round, and one that actually has true #1 WR upside. If somehow every one of these eight WRs were still on the board when KC picked (not going to happen) Moncrief would be my first choice (others may not agree). Unfortunately, if my take on him is correct, he could also be one of the least likely to fall to pick #87.

Martavis Bryant – Clemson – 6-4, 211 lbs

While it took some time for Odell Beckham Jr. to establish himself as the better WR prospect at LSU, Martavis Bryant has been the clear #2 to Sammy Watkins from the get go. Bryant is a good deep threat showing 4.42 speed at the combine to go along with his good height, leaping ability and catch radius. So on one hand, he could help KC with his ability to stretch the field, but he isn’t the best route runner or most reliable pass catcher of this group. In my opinion, he has a high-bust potential.

Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin – 6-1, 195 lbs

Abbrederis is a player who really has my interest. First off, I promise not to make any Wes Welker comparisons just because he’s white. That having been said, his scouting reports read like the most typical “white guy” WR prospect ever, full of terms like “hard worker, coachable, high football IQ” and all the other stereotypes people like to put on white WRs. This is only amplified by the fact that he started as a walk-on and worked his way to becoming one of the school’s most prolific WRs ever. Then he went and put up only four reps on the bench press at the combine to solidify the also very stereotypical “non-athletic” label. However, if you’re assuming from all those labels that Abbrederis is some plodding possession receiver that just catches everything in sight, you’d be wrong. Abbrederis actually ran a 4.5 forty at the combine and was used as a deep threat consistently at Wisconsin. He probably doesn’t have the speed to take the top off a defense at the next level, but he’s fast enough and a good enough route runner to create separation. His route running and great hands would make him a great go-to target in an offense that is based on the short pass like the Chiefs run.

Bruce Ellington – South Carolina – 5-9, 197 lbs

Ellington was a two sport star at South Carolina, playing point guard for former K-State coach Frank Martin on the Gamecock’s basketball team. The fact that Ellington had to split time between two sports has left his football skills a little rough around the edges. You see the word “raw” used a lot to describe him. He has the work ethic and intelligence (think starting point guard) that most believe he’ll really blossom in the NFL once he is fully focused on football. While not very tall, he does have a strong build and ran a 4.45 in the 40 at the combine. CBS’s Rob Rang actually compared him to the Packers’ Randall Cobb. I see a lot of talent here, but KC would have to be patient to bring him along.

Sep 7, 2013; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowboys wide receiver Robert Herron (6) runs against the Idaho Vandals during the third quarter at War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Vandals 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Herron – Wyoming – 5-9, 193 lbs

Herron is another intriguing prospect. He possesses possibly the most impressive straight line speed of all the WR prospects listed here. He only ran the 40 in 4.48 at the combine, which surprised many since his tape shows a much faster player. This was supported by his pro day where some scouts had him clocked in the mid 4.20s. While he’s short, like Ellington he’s also strong and tough. He played against questionable competition and his route running is unrefined, but if KC is looking for an explosive play maker in the third round, Herron could be a candidate.

Cody Latimer – Indiana – 6-3, 215 lbs

Latimer wasn’t a WR that was getting much buzz even just a couple of months ago. He was recovering from foot surgery and wasn’t able to participate at the NFL combine. Then last week at his pro day he put up a 4.38 40 time and 39″ vertical jump to go along with 23 bench press reps. Those impressive measurables in a 6-3 body have scouts drooling. He’s another “raw” talent, but some are now speculating that he could jump all the way up to the late first or early second round. While his tape is impressive at times, that still seems a little high to me. Still, similar to what I said about Donte Moncrief, Latimer is a WR that could be a true #1 WR if he’s able to put it all together. I see him as another boom-or-bust pick with a high upside.

Sep 15, 2012; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Cody Latimer (3) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire

So what do you think, Addicts? Do you see enough talent on that list to risk passing on a first round WR? Would KC be better off taking a player in the first round at a position that doesn’t run as deep in this draft? I think I’m leaning that direction. I’d like to see KC add another difference maker to the defensive front seven to help put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Unless you get lucky, those players are usually found in the first round. If the Chiefs could add another dominant difference maker to their defensive front AND hit on one of these wide receivers in the third round I think KC would be in great shape. They could then target players in the fourth and fifth round to come in and compete at positions like safety and offensive line.

Agree or disagree?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter so please take a second to share in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

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