2014: The Year Of The Young, Developing Chiefs

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Generally speaking, for most of Chiefs Kingdom, free agency’s been a disappointment. There’s some thought that the Kansas City Chiefs’ low-level signings won’t make a constructive difference in 2014. The AFC West arms race appears to have been dominated by the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs’ modest FA haul comes as no real surprise to those who’ve been reading the tea leaves. The front office clearly expects to flesh the roster out with players from the NFL Draft. More importantly, they expect younger players already on the roster to mature and make bigger contributions next season.

Chiefs GM John Dorsey’s core “draft and develop” philosophy requires more than the addition of young talent. Eventually those young players are also going to have to play. A pair of the players Kansas City thought would contribute in year one were sidelined with injuries that kept them off the field (Travis Kelce and Sanders Commings). Andy Reid will call upon several of them when the new season begins. They’ll be asked to help fill the vacated roles of players who became unrestricted free agents and defected for other teams.

Given few impact player acquisitions in March and only six draft picks (barring any trades) in May, the Chiefs are counting on younger players to take another step forward next year. As a former NFL scout for more than a decade, Dorsey’s shown a keen eye for player evaluation. We’ve already seen how adept he can be at identifying diamonds in the ruff. It’s not unreasonable to think his plan could continue to work in Kansas City.

Here are the players I think are most likely to continue to blossom:

Rishaw Johnson


Losing two starting-caliber right guards in Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah pushes the three-year man out of Ole Miss to the fore. His lone start for the Chiefs came in the final game of the regular season. With Kansas City locked into their postseason seed, head coach Andy Reid opted to rest his starters. Johnson got the start at right guard and his performance in the game was quietly among the very best on the field that day. In case you missed it, fellow AA writer Ladner Morse did an in-depth analysis of every Rishaw Johnson snap of the second San Diego matchup. It’s a small sample size, but he appears to be one of the likelier candidates to improve in 2014.

Knile Davis


While we’re on the subject of the Week 17 contest, was there any performance more impressive than the one turned in by rookie runningback Knile Davis? Given the lionshare of the carries, he had the best day of his young career amassing 2 touchdowns and 81 yards on 27 rushing attempts. Davis averaged just 3 yards per carry, but he flashed good field vision, explosion, and a real nose for the end zone. His maturation will afford Reid the opportunity to add new wrinkles to the Chiefs’ offense. Imagine an offensive set where he and Jamaal Charles are both in the backfield at the same time.

Marcus Cooper


The former seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49′ers may already be the team’s most promising young player. His efforts over the first nine games of the season helped him snare the Mack Lee Hill Award (an honor bestowed on the team’s top rookie). The back half of the season proved to be too much for him, but he still finished the season with 44 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 3 interceptions. Cooper’s a big, physical corner who has the potential to be a key part of Kansas City’s future in the secondary. Even given his struggles, he may be the cornerback best suited for success in Sutton’s defensive system.

A.J. Jenkins


Jenkins is another Bay area transplant who arrived in Kansas City in 2013. He was acquired in a trade with San Francisco for another underachieving former first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin. Jenkins didn’t do much to distinguish himself from a pedestrian group of wide receivers in Kansas City, but he did come on at the end of the season. In the team’s final contest of the regular season he registered 3 catches for 67 yards (including a 48-yarder in KC’s first offensive possession). The Chiefs have made a pair of unsuccessful attempts to upgrade the receiving corps this month. Jenkins could have another great opportunity to separate himself from the pack this coming season.

What say you, Addicts? Will these young players figure prominently in the Chiefs’ future? Are there other players you expect to step up in 2014? Is the front office’s reliance upon the maturation of these players a sound strategy? Use the comment section below to begin the debate. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!


Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • berttheclock

    I would expect Ron Parker to move up, as well. Funny thing about him was how lowly he was rated prior to the 2011 draft, yet, has out performed many CBs from that draft taken and he ended up not being picked. This brings up how many grains of salt one needs to read scouting comments from such as Walter Football. Prior to that draft, they were correct at the very top, but, they over rated Jimmy Smith as the 3rd best corner and he has really struggled with the Ravens. They placed Jalil Brown at 15 and thought he would be a sleeper. Unfortunately, for the Chiefs, he ended up just sleeping. They rated Richard Sherman at 23 and he has become an All Pro. They really blew it on Cliff Harris out of KU, rated at 48, picked up as a walk on by the Broncos and he became a very formidable starter before being injured last season. Walter Football didn’t even address Ron Parker, but, NFL Draft Scout did have him as 28th out of 144 best corners.

    • sidibeke

      I like Parker, too. In fact, I was wondering why KC didn’t try him when Indy was abusing our 2ary given, what seemed to me, his strong performance in SD.

      • berttheclock

        One funny thing about that Indy game is had the safeties been able to stop Hilton inside the 20, it would have led to Luck trying to score as he had the worst Red Zone rating of any NFL QB, last season. I believe he was only successful 23.5 per cent of the time in hitting TDs from the Red Zone.

      • thabear04

        Parker is one hell of a player almost every time he came in he got a fumble or cause an int. He great on the Punt first man down the field.

  • Chris Tarrants

    I would bet money that Jenkins will break out this year followed by a strange epidemic of self Inflicted gunshots from many top execs and coaches from San Fran! Dorsey has made it his mission to fleece the boys from the Bay. Smith, Cooper and then Jenkins, but when they look over at their own sideline and they see Jon Baldwin plucking his eyebrows with a foundation mirror that is when reality will set in that they have been punked

    • berttheclock

      sfgate reported about three weeks ago Baldwin will have to win a spot of the roster of the Niners. He was forced to take a pay cut just to remain hanging on by a thread. Plus, the various writers for the Niners’ blogs keep screaming how much Baalke needs to find a new wide out in the draft to mix with Crabtree and Boldin. That is why I keep thinking Baalke will try to move up to 23.

    • Robert Lee

      Fleecing? We gave up at least fair market value for Smith in the form of two second round draft choices, one of them the second pick of that round. We would feel a lot better about this year’s draft with our second round choice in tow. No question about fleecing regarding Jenkins/Baldwin and Cooper has the potential of being a fantastic find.

    • KCMikeG

      Bahahahahaha! Thanks for brightening my day!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Jenkins has the right skillset for this offense. Hopefully he’ll continue to grow in it.

  • Josh Landers

    Don’t forget about catapano. Word is, he’s gonna play at around 290 this year. He played well with limited snaps last year.

    • thabear04

      Agree Catapano look great hope he push Bailey for the starting job on the DE side

    • KCMikeG

      Catapano looked raw but talented in Camp last year, saw a spark or two last year and Dorsey has singled him out for success. Josh Martin is another along with Ron Parker that I expect to see rise to more prominant roles. Cooper’s issues were exposed by horrendous safety play. Expect that to change drastically. I wonder about Watkins and a move of Kush to compete at guard too since I’m not impressed with Allen so far.

      • Josh Landers

        Allen was pretty bad last year. Hopefully lecharles Bentley can help him learn to use his body. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see at least one lineman taken in the draft.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Definitely haven’t forgotten about him. The odds got a little longer for him though. Walker’s an upgrade as a pass rusher. Catapano was probably the best pure passrusher along the D-line.

  • Phillip Maxwell

    I haven’t been to concerned with the not so aggressive off season because I believe going back to last season that there is talent here already and that’s putting into consideration the free agents we lost. It’s gel time in Kansas City with our talented cast.

  • thabear04

    Not sold on Rishaw Johnson or AJ Jenkins both show some flashes but nothing to wow you yet.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I’m not “sold” on anybody on this list, but I do think it’s reasonable to think they’ll improve in 2014.

  • BurtGummer44

    The Chiefs have been a “Young Developing Team” almost every year since 1975.

  • tomflex

    I get the impression that the Chiefs are of a mind to take what they have, add the draft, get on the field and see what they got. There will be opportunity to fill spots after the draft and they will be in a better position at that time to do it. With the exception of wide receiver I think they are pretty confident they can put a competitive team on the field. I definitely don’t believe the team is writing this season off. For some reason I can’t see Andy OK with explaining losses again like he had to that last year in Philly……No way in hell.

  • Erik Hild

    I think Knile Davis is going to be interesting to watch. I wonder if his injury problems will keep him off the field. If he can stay healthy I believe he could be a real solid #2 RB for a couple of years and help Jamaal get some rest during games.

  • RepOurChiefs

    Appreciate the upside post Reach. Though the Chiefs didnt make much noisr during FA, im ok with it. Yes it would have been great but they didnt so im good to move on from it. That 2nd Chargers game. The youngstas held their own against a team fighting for playoff survival. The brass is showing confidence in these guys and understandable when one thinks of that game. Im very high on Coop and I feel 2014 will be the year for #31 jersey. #CHIEFSKINGDOM

  • Pessimisticchiefsfan

    We have a terrible receiving corps

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict


    I am curious why you chose to omit Eric Fisher from your list. Care to illuminate?