Wide Receiver May Be In Better Hands Than We Think

Let’s start with this: It is May and this is rookie minicamp.

Trying to make serious observations about rookie minicamp on some level is a losing cause. You’re talking about mostly undrafted guys, several of whom will never see an NFL roster, and you’re trying to determine what this all means for the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs.

In the words of Allen Iverson, it’s practice. We’re talking about practice.

Knowing the perspective of what we are dealing with it should be noted some of the receivers the Chiefs need to be showing some skills are doing just that.

We’ve talked frequently about wide receiver this offseason, potentially too much. Many of us had the position as a top need in the draft and I have argued receiver is the weakest position group on the team in terms of talent. All of that noted, the Chiefs, armed with a smart general manager and very successful head coach, went the whole offseason without making a significant addition at wide receiver. This is unless you consider Weston Dressler to be a significant addition (we hear your cries that he is significant, Canada).

The receivers on this team are not much to shake a stick at but they do seem to follow a pattern of Andy Reid teams that did not have big name/true number one wide receivers but still put up loads of points.

The pinnacle of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia was from 2000 to 2004 when the Eagles made the playoffs every year and made four consecutive NFC Championship games from 2001-2004. 2004 is the lone Super Bowl appearance Reid’s team was able to reach in his time in Philly. From 2000 to 2004 the list of leading receivers for the Eagles was as follows:

2000: Chad Lewis (tight end)

2001: James Thrash

2002: Todd Pinkston

2003: Pinkston

2004: Terrell Owens

Not necessarily murderers row of wide receivers, eh? Chad Lewis? I’m not going to deceive you, I had no idea who Chad Lewis was until I looked him up. Turns out he made three Pro Bowls, two of which I’m sure were on accident.

When it comes to the bigger names at wide receiver in Reid’s tenure at Philadelphia you have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Those two receivers under Reid combined for two seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving (Jackson, 2009 and 2010) and no seasons with 80 or more catches. Interesting or not, the team never made it past the wild card round with both Maclin and Jackson on the team.

Success in Reid’s offense – and potentially in Reid’s scheme of winning football games beyond the regular season – does not rest in having superstar wide receivers. What appears to matter most is to have receivers who are willing to fill roles within the offense, catch the ball consistently, and run the plays they are asked to run.

This gets us back to guys like Dressler and Hammond.

Are Dressler and Hammond bound to be “future number one receivers” or superstars in the NFL? No. Not that I’d complain if they did end up being both of those things but neither is going to happen. What matters is the two of them make the plays that are in front of them as receivers. Silly things like catch the ball (what a concept!) and running the routes the way the Reid has designed them.

On one hand reading tweets from reporters at Chiefs practice saying Dressler and Hammond “ran the routes the way they were coached” means absolutely nothing. On the other hand reading tweets that say Dressler and Hammond “ran the routes the way they were coached” means everything. Success for the Chiefs – success for Reid-coached teams – requires blue collar workers who are not looking to be diva NFL receivers but to be the kind of players who do what they are asked to do within the offense.

Kansas City may have enough blue collar guys between Bowe, Dressler, Hammond, Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway, Jerrell Jackson, and Albert Wilson. With Jamaal Charles in the backfield and the Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce at tight end – arguably two players more valuable than almost any wide receiver in the Chiefs offensive scheme – the Chiefs passing game may be in better shape than we think.

P.S. Two of the top three wide receivers in terms of snaps on the Seattle Seahawks -Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse – were undrafted free agents. Four of the seven wide receivers to accumulate 50 or more regular season snap at wide receiver were undrafted free agents. Percy Harvin played in 20 snaps all season (not including the playoffs). Maybe, just maybe, having a “number one wide receiver” doesn’t mean as much as we think it does. 

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