If the Kansas City Chiefs are to take another step forward in 2015, they’ll need a bigger contribution from their receiving corps. I won’t mention the infamous, historical statistic that’s plagued Chiefs Kingdom for the past six months. By now, we’re all aware of what they weren’t able to accomplish last season. What’s unsettled is how the receiver group will evolve this year. In less than three weeks, the team will depart for their annual training camp site in St. Joseph, Mo. It’s there that we’re likely to find out how far the position group has come during the offseason. Save Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, they’re a young bunch with a lot of growing up to do. Fortunately for the Chiefs, those two veterans may be the key to getting more from their young hopefuls.
The maturation of players like Albert Wilson and newly-designated receiver De’Anthony Thomas is, in part, contingent upon the examples set before them by their veteran counterparts. Rookie Chris Conley said Avant gave him valuable advice when organized team activities got underway earlier in the offseason:
"You’ve got to allow yourself to fail, and you’ve got to learn to forgive yourself. And when you’re starting at the bottom, you don’t know everything. You don’t know how to beat everyone yet. And you’re kind of taking your first steps and you’re learning and you’ve got to be able to just go full-speed, do what you can. Mess up, forgive yourself, learn from it, come back out there and do it again. And really, that’s just really the art of football."
With that kind of leadership, you can expect a culture among the receivers that minds the little things. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and even the less regarded members of the group (Frankie Hammond and Junior Hemingway) can take cues from how the elder statesmen prepare on a daily basis. It’s also helpful that their mentors have such a good grasp of Andy Reid’s offensive system. As I’ve said all offseason, this version of the west coast offense has quite a learning curve for the players being freshly introduced to it.
It’s also beneficial to learn from players who have an ideal skillset for the offensive scheme. The west coast system demands receivers who can run the route tree with precision. Who better to learn from than Avant and Maclin? Precise routes have been a career calling card for the both of them.
Conley’s one of the most athletic receivers in the 2015 draft class. Concerning pure physical gifts, there’s little he can’t do, but he could stand to improve the intangible side of his game (namely his route running). Wilson may be at the head of the class in this regard, but he can still take notes on how to set up and break free from a defender. Reid’s offense has been handicapped the past two seasons due to problems with receivers gaining separation. If that changes, the offense could produce chunk plays on a more regular basis.
Jeremy Maclin is the clear leader of the group and he’ll have the lion share of responsibility to produce in this offense. Conversely, Avant is 32 and his best playing days are behind him. He’s a wiley veteran who’ll contribute here and there, but not enough help this offense improve upon their 2014 performance. One of the young wideouts will have to take a step forward in their progression and he’ll need a firm support system to do that. Receivers coach David Culley sets the tone in the room, but he’s fortunate to have a pair of players who can be an extension of him on the field. Time will tell just how much that factors into the future of that position group.
How important do you think the former Eagles’ receivers will be to the young guns at wide receiver? Is veteran leadership still as useful to player development as it was in years past? Use the comment section below to chime in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support!
Until next time, Addicts!