Situation: The Chiefs Wide Receiver corps took some big steps in 2015. Jeremy Maclin showed that he is a legit primary target, and helped Alex Smith prove a good number of fan and media narratives to be incorrect. Albert Wilson took a step forward and showed that he has the potential to become a viable second target, and Chris Conley gave a lot of fans hope in the future of the long ball in KC. However, after those three players, there wasn’t a lot to get excited about…and that’s true for 2016 as well. Especially if DeAnthony Thomas doesn’t return to the team.
Options: Obviously the Chiefs need to be in the market. John Dorsey needs to take that “no stone unturned” approach this offseason and explore all of his options. In fact, don’t be surprised to see the Chiefs address the Wide Receiver spot in more than just one fashion. There is anywhere from one to three spots open in this group. As for the draft…
The primary option is to go Wide Receiver early in the draft. The Chiefs can build for the future by taking a quality receiver early on to start as the #2 option and eventually replace Jeremy Maclin. Honestly, I don’t know that this option has a lot of legs in either the short or long-term. There is really no reason to think about replacing Maclin yet, and putting a young guy in the place of young guys (Wilson and Conley) is a 50/50 proposition at best.
The second option is to hit Wide Receiver a couple of times in the draft to help build up the depth. This move allows the team to go low-risk/high-reward with guys that they aren’t tied to. It allows for further development of Wilson and Conley as well.
My Move: Pharoh Cooper – South Carolina – 3rd
Cooper was almost the entirety of the Gamecocks offense in 2015. An open-field nightmare for defenders, Cooper possesses elite quickness and balance that makes him tough for defenders to bring down in space. A quality Punt Returner as well who has displayed excellent vision and understanding of how to set up blockers and use subtle moves to get defenders out of position.
Does not have elite speed to beat top end defensive backs in a foot race. Ran a limited route tree at South Carolina, and is obviously uncomfortable with some common receiving routes. Can get openly frustrated with the team if he begins to feel like he’s the only one trying, which can cause tension on the sidelines.
Pharoh Cooper was one of Steve Surrier’s favorite players during his tenure at South Carolina. Cooper won’t turn down any assignment and is just as willing to throw a block as he is to be the primary target. The Chiefs need a Punt Returner, as well as some Wide Receiver depth and Cooper fits the bill in both regards.
Situation: The Chiefs have to be happy with the development of Travis Kelce thus far. Heading into his fourth season, the flamboyant young star has taken on a major role in the KC offense, and that should be expected to continue. Behind him, the Chiefs have shown a lot of faith in the development of Demetrius Harris, despite many fans being down on him. Harris has actually developed a lot from the raw talent he was when John Dorsey first found him.
After that there is James O’Shaughnessy and Brian Parker, neither of whom made much of an impact this year but did demonstrate some decent ability and potential. Unfortunately, none of that group really emerged as a solid second option at tight end, so there is a question there moving forward.
However, the glaring hole in this group is the lack of a veteran presence. Anthony Fasano is sorely missed in a group that too often lost focus, missed assignments, or simply made bad decisions (yes, that’s including Travis Kelce). The Chiefs definitely need to be looking for a veteran to add to this group.
Options: The Chiefs have young talent at the position, so it seems unlikely that they are going to be looking to add another Tight End in the draft. However, you never know how things will develop.
- Taking another top Tight End is an option, especially if they don’t feel they can get a Wide Receiver they like early on. A move like this would have other effects though, and it would be unlikely that either Shag or Parker (possibly both) return to the roster in 2016. While some of the draftniks may like this idea, it doesn’t jive well with Dorsey’s history and background.
- Churning the bottom of the roster with another late round addition could be a potential move. Bringing in a guy to battle with Shag and Parker (instead of flat out replacing them) is a great way to drive development. And dropping a 6th or 7th (or even UDFA) pick during cuts isn’t that big of a deal, especially on an already talented roster.
My Move: Stick with what we’ve got. John Dorsey has essentially already shown his hand with Harris. There is apparently something there that many outsiders don’t see. And with Shag and Parker also in the mix, there just doesn’t seem to be much sense in adding another young guy. If the Chiefs want to make a move at Tight End, it needs to be through Free Agency.
Next: In the Trenches