Kansas City Chiefs: Who will be Alex Smith’s third receiving option?

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October 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi

The average top receiver for an NFL team:

80.1 receptions, 1,011.6 yards, 5.9 TDs

The average number two receiver for an NFL team:

64.7 receptions, 837 yards, 5.9 TDs

The average number three receiver for an NFL team:

50.3 receptions, 586.8 yards, 3.5 TDs

As you can see, Kansas City fell well short of all three league averages last season. However, the general consensus is that Maclin and Kelce should be able to put up numbers this season that should meet or surpass those averages for those top two spots. The question is do the Chiefs have anyone else on their roster that could catch 50 passes for nearly 600 yards and three or four TDs? Keep in mind, those are just the middle of the road averages. In fact, two teams (New England and Chicago) had a third receiving target that caught more passes than KC’s leading receiver. My point is that the good teams have at least three reliable targets for their quarterback to go to in the passing game. The Chiefs have two of those three spots locked down but need to find a third.

So let’s look at who the most likely candidates are.

November 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) misses a catch against Denver Broncos strong safety Duke Ihenacho (33) during the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles

The Chiefs have one player on their roster that is clearly the most talented and probably most likely of all the options available and that is obviously All World running back Jamaal Charles. Charles was KC’s third leading receiver last season and while his numbers were below the league averages he is just one season removed from a 70 reception/693 yard season in 2013. So the question is not if Jamaal Charles COULD be the third leading receiver, but SHOULD he be?

Jamaal Charles will turn 29 at the end of this coming season and that is dangerously close to the dreaded age of 30 for NFL running backs. His slight 5-foot-11 and 199 pound frame has taken a lot of punishment over his seven years in the league and he has averaged nearly 300 touches per season in the past three seasons since his knee surgery. If the Chiefs want to keep Charles fresh and explosive they may not want him catching 50+ passes.

I’m not saying that JC shouldn’t be a part of the passing game anymore, just that the offense would benefit from having a third pass catching option other than Charles that could help take some of the work load off of KC’s best player.

Next: So who are the other options?