We can all agree the Kansas City Chiefs have a wide receiver problem. While we can disagree about the value of receivers to the offense or what areas of the team are most important to improve, we can at least come to the conclusion that the worst position group on the team is wide receiver.
So it comes as a surprise that after two days of the NFL Draft the Chiefs have yet to address the wide receiver position. The roster currently features an aging Dwayne Bowe, an inconsistent Donnie Avery, unknowns in Weston Dressler and Junior Hemingway, an injured Kyle Williams, and a host of practice squad types – Frankie Hammond, Jerrell Jackson, Rashad Ross, and Fred Williams. No one of that group has the upside to upgrade the Chiefs’ receiving group substantially. If anything, there may be regression as Bowe is aging and the Chiefs are losing Dexter McCluster.
This is why receiver seemed like a lock after two days of the draft. Add a top end receiver in the NFL’s deepest wide receiver draft in years and maybe the Chiefs could stop the bleeding in the passing game. A bounce back year from Bowe, healthy years from Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce, and a top draft pick seemed like a reasonable plan. But this isn’t the plan Kansas City chose.
Instead, KC seems certain they have something in A.J. Jenkins. Jenkins, a former first round pick of the 49ers, was acquired via a trade which involved the Chiefs sending their first round bust from 2011, Jon Baldwin, to San Francisco. Neither one of them saw much playing time, though Jenkins did catch more passes (8) than Baldwin (3) in limited action.
It would appear there is a feeling with the Chiefs that Jenkins can be successful in this offense in a role similar to Dexter McClusters. Unlike McCluster, Jenkins has true downfield speed and is three inches taller, so there is a better athlete in that role. And it is fair to say Jenkins really had no real shot at San Francisco (active for only three games) and came in way too late last season to contribute much in his first season in Kansas City.
With Bowe and Avery still the top two receivers on the team and no draft pick immediately available to compete for the third position, Jenkins earned a bunch of playing time these past two days. While there are still some very good wide receiver prospects available in the draft, and I’m sure the Chiefs will select one of them today, few really look to have the outlook to see more than 40 targets come their way this season. This means there are a bunch of snaps and targets that are going to go Jenkins’ way that used to belong to McCluster.
There is still time for all of this to be sorted out, of course. There could be a surprise June 1 cut or their could be a trade that changes the game later this summer. Who saw Stevie Johnson being traded this weekend a week ago?
But it looks as if now Jenkins will be walking away with this weekend as the top candidate to replace McCluster’s snaps heading into training camp. One can only assume Andy Reid and John Dorsey know something we don’t about his prospects for success.