Kansas City Chiefs camp: Who shows? Who breaks out?

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Another wide receiver I believe will have a breakout year in 2015 is DeAnthony Thomas. In 2015, Thomas had a breakout year as a punt returner. Thomas was tied for second in the league, as evaluated by Pro Football Focus, with a rank of + 5.2 tying him with Devon Hester, lofty company for someone in his rookie campaign. Those two only came in behind Darren Sproles of Philadelphia who returned two punts for touchdowns.

By listing DeAnthony Thomas (DAT) as a running back last season and working him with running back’s coach Eric Bieniemy all year it made the transition during DAT’s rookie year much easier considering he came into the offseason workouts late because of college requirements. By designating him as a wide receiver this offseason he’ll be able to learn the route tree and hopefully master the position, whereas that would have been nearly impossible last year when he only garnered 23 receptions, as a wide receiver.

DeAnthony Thomas had 40 receiving yards in the first half of 2014. He had 116 yards in the second half of the year. DAT had 73 yards rushing in the first half of the season and only 40 in the last half. So, coach Reid was already trending towards using Thomas as a receiver by the end of the year.

Andy Reid has indicated that DeAnthony Thomas will still receive as many touches at running back as he did last year but if you look at his usage in 2014, he spent the last half of the year mostly playing wideout from scrimmage (see above). If DAT has a few games early in the season showing he can be successful as a wide receiver, I don’t expect to see him lining up in the backfield very often.

The main objective with DeAnthony Thomas this year is to get him isolated one-on-one in space. Is there a better way to get him in space than to split him out wide? Any success he has out wide will lessen the burden on Jeremy Maclin because it’s very difficult for any defense to double team both receivers who are lined up wide. If you neglect to double Maclin he’ll kill you all day long. If you neglect to double DAT, he’ll kill you long, at least once each game. When you listen to the Chiefs own corners talk about covering Thomas, they know full well the challenges of making sure he you stay tight on him… “or he’s gone”… in their words.

This is one reason I fully expect to see Albert Wilson being used in the slot. With Maclin and Thomas wide, no team is going to double up on Wilson, especially since Travis Kelce will be playing Monopoly in the middle of the field. Then we should see some of those catches Wilson made at camp last year… catches that got plenty of oohs and aahs. It’s a game of chess and the Chiefs appear to have the pieces to outwit and outmaneuver most defenses they’ll face this year. Yahtzee… Pass go… Checkmate!

Especially if… both Albert Wilson and DeAnthony Thomas have breakout years in 2015.

However, for the Kansas City Chiefs to be wildly successful in 2015 they will also have to have a few offensive linemen “show” or “breakout.”

Eric Fisher will have to have a breakout year. Many people are hoping for that. Some are projecting it. It’s step one for the Chiefs to begin to put together a cohesive offensive line this year.

At the Center position, Eric Kush will need to “show” us that he has promise. I don’t know what more you can expect from a third year player. If he has a breakout year he will shock the world but he must at least “show” us he’s a keeper.

If the Chiefs can’t find a player who improves the right guard position, then you can expect to see starter Zach Fulton return.

I believe the right guard position will be much improved if…. the right tackle position is occupied by a player who has a breakout season. Duh!? Prior to the draft this year AA’s Lyle Graversen said the Chiefs need to draft a bully of a right tackle. Well, that didn’t happen. They did draft a future interior lineman in Mitch Morse but I wouldn’t count on him being the “bully” the Chiefs need at right tackle. Ever.

So, who does that leave?

– Jeff Allen, who began the 2014 season as the starting right tackle.

– There’s Donald Stephenson, who has served as a swing tackle and has starting experience during previous seasons (but not 2014, because he was in the dog house).

– There’s also Derek Sherrod, who was drafted in the first round by Dorsey’s Packers four years ago but has had to work his way back from a severe leg injury (broken bone).

Next: Which Right Tackle Will Break Out?