NFL Draft: Five wide receiver targets for the Kansas City Chiefs
The Route Runners
Andy Reid’s offense that combines traditional West Coast Offense concepts with a modern spread offense relies on wide receivers having a full grasp of the route tree. If the Chiefs want to prioritize route running, there are two prospects they might be able to target in the third round that look tailor-made for what Andy Reid needs.
Tyler Johnson – Minnesota – 6’1″ – 206 lbs
Tyler Johnson of Minnesota isn’t the flashiest receiver in this draft class, but he is one of the smoothest. Johnson effortlessly finds holes in opposing defenses. He’s a very smart player that runs fantastic routes. He has good enough size at 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds, but the team that drafts Johnson isn’t drafting him to win jump balls. They’re drafting him because he gets open.
That’s not to say that Johnson doesn’t have good hands. He has very good hands and just like the other prospects on this list he consistently catches the ball with his hands out away from his body (that’s huge for me). He tracks the ball well in the air well, too, which will come in handy on downfield throws from Mahomes. Johnson isn’t near as physical as Gandy-Golden or Johnson, but he’s willing to try as a blocker.
Johnson was actually Pro Football Focus’ #2 rated slot receiver behind top prospect CeeDee Lamb last season. He seems like a great compliment to the electric speed of guys like Hill and Hardman. Johnson would give the Chiefs a sure-handed target that runs fantastic routes and instinctively finds open spots in the defense.
Again, in a typical draft class I think Johnson would probably go in the second round, but the depth of this class could push him to the third round this year. If Andy Reid could add him to his arsenal in the third round, it would be a home run pick.
Van Jefferson – Florida – 6’1″ – 200 lbs
I’ll do my best to try and differentiate between Tyler Johnson and Van Jefferson, but if I’m being honest they are very similar players. They are both 6-foot-1 and around 200 pounds, have adequate speed but aren’t burners, have great hands (even in traffic), and run fantastic routes.
Jefferson is the son of a former NFL player and current New York Jets wide receiver coach and it shows. You would expect a wide receiver whose dad has NFL experience and is currently coaching wide receivers to run precise routes, and that is exactly the case. If you asked me to try and differentiate between Johnson and Jefferson, I would say that Johnson is a little more instinctive in finding the holes in the defense and Jefferson is a little more technically clean in his route running. Jefferson’s feet are great and there is rarely a false step anywhere.
Jefferson will never be the most talented wideout on the field, but he may quickly become one of the most dependable. If you want Mahomes to be able to throw to an exact spot and trust that his receiver will be there, Jefferson is your guy. Just like Johnson, I think Jefferson probably would go in the second round of an average draft, but could fall to the Chiefs in the third round in this deep class. I think he’d be another excellent option for K.C.
Finally, if the Chiefs don’t want to risk a target they really like falling to them in the third round or later, there is one guy I would be ok with them targeting at the back end of the second round.