Preseason action is just around the corner for the Kansas City Chiefs and that means more opportunities for players buried on the depth chart to show the team and fans what they can bring to the table. The Chiefs have had unproven players shine in the preseason and then actually turn into regular players, such as Travis Kelce in 2014 and Ben Niemann in 2018. The team has also had players who showed serious potential in preseason games but ended up contributing very little in real game action.
Let’s review three preseason stars that fooled us all in preseason games. I will limit the scope of who is eligible to players who played with the Chiefs during the Andy Reid era.
Fred Williams is the classic flash-in-the-pan preseason star. Despite being a member of the Chiefs for almost two and a half years, he never saw a single snap in the regular season, for any team. As a Minnesota native, this one breaks my heart since he played college football at Division II’s St. Cloud State in central Minnesota.
The Chiefs signed Williams after Williams’ three-year stint with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. The Chiefs ended up releasing him in the middle of the 2016 offseason and he’s never signed an NFL contract since.
His contribution in meaningful games may have been nonexistent but his impact in the preseasons of both 2014 and especially 2015 was definitely existent. Across those two preseason stints, and seven games, he recorded 19 catches for 218 yards and 3 touchdowns on 23 targets. He earned a near-elite PFF overall grade ($) of 88.7 in the 2015 preseason. He averaged 9.48 yards per target in his preseason career. Just for context, if Tyreek Hill had that same average in the 2021 regular season, he would have had 1,469 yards, or over 200 more than the 1,239 he actually had.
Ukeme Eligwe, Linebacker, 2017
One of the bigger disappointments in recent memory for Chiefs draft picks was former Georgia State linebacker Ukeme Eligwe. He was a 5th-round pick in the Patrick Mahomes draft of 2017 and he only went to play not 66 career defensive snaps for the Chiefs, per PFF ($), with all but one coming Mahomes’ NFL debut in Week 17 of 2017. He has not played in any type of NFL game since the 2019 preseason with the Tennessee Titans.
Despite busting as an NFL player, Eligwe enjoyed a very good preseason in 2017. He earned a PFF overall defensive grade ($) of 85.9 that August, where he also recorded 13 tackles and an interception. The primary reason that he is on this list is that he was a fifth-round pick (183rd overall) and it wasn’t unreasonable to believe that the Chiefs had something in Eligwe.
Frankie Hammond Jr., Wide Receiver, 2013-2016
Perhaps one of the most polarizing players the Chiefs have had in the Andy Reid era. Frankie Hammond was infuriating to many fans in the Chiefs Kingdom (including a past AA editor who shall remain nameless). He saw 12 career targets in the NFL, all in Kansas City, but he dropped two of them. In total, he had 6 receptions for 50 yards. He spent an offseason with the Jets in 2017 but has not appeared in a regular season or playoff game in the NFL since the 2017 preseason in New York.
Referring to Hammond as a star in the preseason may be pushing it but he did manage 30 catches for 375 yards and two touchdowns on 39 targets across four preseasons from 2013 until 2016. His preseason yards per target was 9.62, even greater than Fred Williams’ 9.48. The fact that he was around for four preseasons but only saw 12 targets in the regular season and playoffs is kind of amazing.
What do you remember about the players mentioned in this article? Which player(s) did I omit? Feel free to let me know in the comment section or on Twitter (@StrozinskyLucas).