Don’t count out Daurice Fountain in Chiefs wideout mix
By Jacob Milham
The Kansas City Chiefs have some tough roster decisions looming. While several receivers have a case for the 53-man roster, don’t count out Daurice Fountain.
The Kansas City Chiefs are absolutely flush with talented wide receivers this offseason. Kin to rebuilding the offensive line in 2021, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach saw a possible weak receiving corps and rebuilt it. Free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft were kind to Kansas City, as this is how three of the team’s projected top four receivers came to town.
Unlike 2021’s offensive line rebuild, 2022’s wide receiver rebuild quickly became very crowded. On the current 90-man roster, the Chiefs have:
- Omar Bayless
- Corey Coleman
- Daurice Fountain
- Josh Gordon
- Mecole Hardman
- Gary Jennings
- Skyy Moore
- Cornell Powell
- Justyn Ross
- Aaron Parker
- JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Justin Watson
- Jerrion Ealy
That adds up to 14 players, or 16% of the overall roster, in the wide receiver room. Take that with a grain of salt, as this is minicamp time, and teams sometimes employ players they have no intention of taking into the initial 53-man roster. However, that is still a lot of players and resources all in one position. Considering that the Chiefs have only carried six receivers on the initial-53 man roster twice in the past four years, the positional competition will be fierce.
Passionate camp and preseason battles are one of the best parts of the offseason. Fans get to see fiery one-on-one competition, while coaches carefully dissect each player’s move on the field. This competition has already started before players donned their pads though. Ross has already had a viral highlight, while Gordon received praise from the Chiefs coaching staff. Smith-Schuster, Hardman, Valdes-Scantling, and Moore are already roster locks. Those four will see the majority of Kansas City’s production at the position in 2022.
That leaves ten players vying for possibly two roster spots. What a wacky season of Survivor.
Honestly, most of those ten have different cases for making the roster. Gordon’s career is one of the biggest what-ifs in the NFL. Ealy is a toolsy undrafted rookie, with fresh legs and an explosive athletic profile. Powell was a Chiefs draft pick in 2021 and has experience under Reid. However, none of the ten has a stronger case than Daurice Fountain.
Fountain came to Kansas City at the lowest point of entry. After spending three years in the Indianapolis Colts organization, Fountain was a try-out player at the Chiefs’ 2021 rookie minicamp. Kansas City quickly signed him to a one-year contract, a surprising move considering the Chiefs’ wide receivers. The depth chart was full of middling depth pieces, but enough bodies to make Foutain a longshot for the 53-man roster.
And what did he do? Fountain went and made the initial 53-man roster, against the odds.
Now, it would be a lie to say that Fountain was the best “rags to riches” story. He was inactive for the first five games, and then Kansas City cut him. He then rejoined the team via the practice squad. Fountain was not there long, as he suited up for the Chiefs’ final seven regular-season games. Ultimately, Fountain only played two offensive snaps, recording no snaps. His special team contributions were significant though, as he played in 74% of those snaps while active. Fountain did not get much of a chance offensively, but held his own where the team needed him.
While preseason stats should be taken as such, Fountain still led all Chiefs wide receivers in preseason stats, with 10 catches for 118 yards in three games. Fountain’s performance against San Francisco in preseason Week 1 showed what Fountain can do as a receiver. He was not only consistently on special teams, but he was solid on offense. Four catches for 38 yards is not otherworldly, but Fountain’s reliability and quick cuts stood out. Fountain is what teams expect their depth players to be; someone who is good, not great, and can produce when called upon.
Fountain has an advantage though heading into 2022. Unlike any rookie or newcomer to Kansas City, he has experience in the system and rapport with the coaching staff. Reid’s scheme is historically unkind to newcomers and rookies. Fellow roster-bubble players like Powell and Gordon have this experience as well though.
Fountain has further advantages over other competitors. Gordon is on the wrong side of 30 and provides little special teams help that Kansas City needs from their depth players, which Fountain provides. Also, Powell did not see any regular-season action, despite being a draft pick employed with the practice squad all season. Fountain not only was a priority practice-squad addition but he was also elevated from that unit over Powell and other players. These may not be obvious advantages, but they certainly cannot hurt Fountain’s case.
Sure, Fountain was not a crazy difference-making player in 2021. He was a special teams receiver. That is an important designator, considering how long special teams coordinator Dave Toub’s favor kept Marcus Kemp employed. With Kemp, and several other key special teams players, gone in 2022, Fountain should be a serious contender for the initial 53-man roster.