A number of impatiently curious people will undoubtedly skim though this slideshow, recollect that were three receivers and rhetorically ask, "How is Dexter McCluster the lowest? He's the most established of the three!"
Before lambasting the ranking via impulsive commenting, relax and read the remainder of this slide.
Throughout his first two seasons, McCluster has, indeed, established his name amongst teammates and fans alike (which is exactly why the term "breakout" is devalued in his particular case). He's infinitely dynamic and dashes through open fields quicker than panicked cheetahs.
But while he's running for yards, his identity flip-flops like he's running for office.
During his debut season, McCluster's role was evenly split as a tailback and receiver. Last year, he was primarily utilized as a running back as he compiled 114 rushing attempts. According to this season's first (un)official depth chart, No. 22 is listed as a receiver—the most sensible choice.
McCluster is entering his third year and needs to find a home. [Cues Sarah McLachlan music]
This isn't Major League Baseball, where large markets dictate the ballgame's playing field like a Labyrinth board. The NFL is a league that's (thankfully) constrained by a salary cap, and there can be too much of a good thing.
On a team as talent-rich as Kansas City's, players tend to become expendable. If the front office can't afford to make a player stay, they can afford to let them go.
Following 2012, Dexter McCluster will steer clear of the aforementioned danger zone.
Although he only played one quarter, the speedster concluded as Kansas City's second-leading receiver (3 REC, 45 YDS) in Friday night's exhibition—expect a successful sequel this Saturday (Aug. 18) against the St. Louis Rams.
While the team is nearly overstocked at wide receiver, McCluster will be the slot receiver. If there are no unforeseen plot twists in the Chiefs' 2012 season, Jon Baldwin will overtake Steve Breaston as the No. 2 wideout (assuming Dwayne Bowe doesn't look like fish out of water in Brian Daboll's system).
While Breaston will still see the field, he doesn't pose the agile threat that McCluster does at the slot. Rookie Devon Wylie will represent McCluster's closest competition, but his playing time will be dispersed in increments as he gains experience.
McCluster's the proverbial "glue guy" that serves as a quick-fix to any rushing, receiving or returning voids.
But with Daboll's motion-and-shift-heavy offense, McCluster will come into his own as a receiver, and Kansas City will hit the jackpot at the slot.