Marcus Kemp stands two inches taller than nearly anyone else among the team’s wide receivers. Can he make the real leap?
Just by his presence, Marcus Kemp already stands above most of the wideouts in training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs.
At 6’4, only Jamal Custis stands as tall as Kemp. Certainly among any of the experienced bodies in St. Joseph, Kemp is two inches taller than anyone else hoping to make the depth chart at wide receiver. Sammy Watkins is 6’2, as is Byron Pringle and Gehrig Dieter. Demarcus Robinson is 6’1. Speedsters like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman are three inches shorter than that.
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Playing wide receiver isn’t all about height, of course, but given the dangerous nature of the Chiefs do-everything offense, it would be a very interesting wrinkle if a tall target could emerge from the lot of wideouts vying for space behind the obvious starters. Enter Kemp into the mix.
Kemp first arrived from the University of Hawaii as an undrafted free agent after catching 73 passes for 1,100 yards during his final season for the Rainbow Warriors. While other teams were calling, Kemp told Arrowhead Addict during his rookie year that the Chiefs were the most interested all along. Apparently the vision for how to use him has been clear for some time in the team’s front office.
In his first two years in the NFL, Kemp has grown from undrafted free agent to practice squad player to fixture on the active roster. His special teams acumen earned him playing time in every single game in 2018 and his experience there with Dave Toub’s units likely gives him a leg up on the competition in camp—that is, if he can turn the corner as a receiver as well.
It’s all well and good to have a special teams player occupying an active roster spot, but the Chiefs have plenty of contenders who would love to gain the experience Kemp has. Fortunately for Kemp, he’s looking the part of an NFL receiver these days. Check out these quick highlights.
In the first play, Kemp’s ability to track the ball deep overhead in stride is impressive on its own, but coming away with the one-handed catch against Mark Fields and never letting up on the route is an excellent development.
On the second play, Kemp cuts back on the route but then has to adjust his body (remember his length here makes it more difficult) to complete the catch that completely takes him away his initial assumed direction. The change of direction here is notable, and his catch radius allows him to extend himself and bring in the catch with both hands against Armani Watts.
Here’s a better example of how Kemp’s length can give the quarterback some more cushion up front on routes like this. Kemp’s radius once again allows the QB to put the ball completely out of reach.
These clips admittedly offer nothing more than a few choice plays from an experimental time of year. There are no hits. There is no opponent. It feels silly to read much into any of this. However, these catches do serve as evidence that Kemp’s natural gifts and stature are finding their way into on-field execution—exactly what any team would want to see.
If Kemp is able to provide this sort of performance on a consistent basis, he’s got a real chance to make this team as more than a special teams performer. For a team looking for a young option or two to move up the depth chart, Kemp could be just the man—a large target for Mahomes to use in ways the current roster doesn’t have without him.