Chris Conley: What Kansas City Chiefs expect in 2015


When teams make their selections in the NFL Draft, fans begin to let their imaginations run wild. They start to think that every player is going to become a contributor, and that every first and second-day pick is an immediate answer.

In reality, many of those players will wash out of the league within a couple of years, long forgotten by the time they fill out the retirement paperwork. The Kansas City Chiefs appear to have a nice haul from the draft this year, although the points made above certainly hold true. The player I’m most curious about is Chris Conley, the receiver Kansas City took in the third round from the University of Georgia.

Conley comes in with the expectation of competing for a starting spot alongside Jeremy Maclin. Conley, who is 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, is a big-bodied guy with blazing speed. He’s got all the physical advantages over Albert Wilson, although Wilson has the edge of experience.

In the hope of giving clarity on what to expect from Conley, I went back over the previous five years and pulled out the rookie numbers of every third-round receiver. Here are the results:

Josh Huff, Philadelphia Eagles (2014): 8 catches, 98 yards, 0 touchdowns
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (2014): 32 catches, 444 yards, 3 touchdowns
John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (2014): 48 catches, 696 yards, 5 touchdowns

Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (2013): 44 catches, 736 yards, 5 touchdowns
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (2013): 71 catches, 1,046 yards, 8 touchdowns
Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo (2013): 17 catches, 283 yards, 3 touchdowns
Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers (2013): 6 catches, 64 yards, 0 touchdowns
Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams (2013): 17 catches, 226 yards, 0 touchdowns

DeVier Posey, Houston Texans (2012): 6 catches, 87 yards, 0 touchdowns
T.J. Graham, Buffalo Bills (2012): 31 catches, 322 yards, 1 touchdowns
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals (2012): 16 catches, 154 yards, 4 touchdowns
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (2012): 50 catches, 861 yards, 7 touchdowns

Austin Pettis, St. Louis Rams (2011): 27 catches, 256 yards, 0 touchdowns
Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins (2011): 13 catches, 163 yards, 0 touchdowns
Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers (2011): 19 catches, 329 yards, 2 touchdowns
Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (2011): 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 touchdowns

Damian Williams, Tennessee Titans (2010): 16 catches, 219 yards, 0 touchdowns
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers (2010): 38 catches, 468 yards, 1 touchdowns
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers (2010): 28 catches, 376 yards, 2 touchdowns
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (2010): 6 catches, 106 yards, 1 touchdowns
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals (2010): 24 catches, 307 yards, 2 touchdowns
Armanti Edwards, Carolina Panthers (2010): 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 touchdowns
Taylor Price, New England Patriots (2010): 3 catches, 41 yards, 0 touchdowns

Average: 23 catches, 317 yards, 2 touchdowns

On the positive side, some of the names on this list turned out to be very good players. If Conley turns into Hilton, Decker, Sanders, Allen, Williams or Sanu, the Chiefs will be absolutely thrilled. However, expecting Conley to become a key contributor in 2015 is likely wishful thinking.

Don’t think of Conley as more than a role player coming into the league. He needs to master Andy Reid’s complex West Coast offense and develop a chemistry with Alex Smith. Kansas City should be expected to start Wilson opposite Maclin, with Jason Avant as the third outside-receiver and De’Anthony Thomas in the slot.