Entering his third season out of Ole Miss, McCluster is just like any other player in the league: he wants to prove to the powers that be that he belongs on the football field. Standing at just 5’8” and 170 pounds, his options are somewhat limited, but McCluster has shined when given the opportunity.
He has shown flashes in the return game and in a more defined role last year helping to fill in for the injured Jamaal Charles. McCluster ran the ball 114 times for 516 yards while catching 46 passes for 328 yards with three total touchdowns in 2011.
While it is obvious McCluster can’t be exposed too much, there is a place for him in this league. He has proven that he is capable of making plays when the ball is in his hands. What the Chiefs need to figure out is just how to make that happen.
McCluster has spent his first two seasons with the Chiefs trying to find his niche, but what if his forte is simply not having one at all?
The plan was for the Chiefs to use McCluster primarily at wide receiver this season, specifically in the slot. During training camp McCluster has seen tons of quick slants, drags, hitches and pivots, but all within five yards of the line of scrimmage, putting emphasis on his ability to make plays in space.
The problem with Kansas City lining McCluster up primarily in the slot is that opposing defenses will easily be able to identify the Chiefs’ intentions with him on any particular play. Being able to negate a player completely is a win for the other team.
Should the Chiefs be more open with their usage of McCluster?
While McCluster may be transitioning smoothly into his new position, his success will be determined largely on how the Chiefs utilize him. This puts the onus on new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Madson also says, “[McCluster]'s transitioned smoothly to WR, it doesn't look like he's played any other position and has taken to the coaching of Nick Sirianni in a big way.”
He is only a mismatch if the opposing defense is left guessing about his potential use on the field. Being limited to wide receiver will make it very difficult for McCluster to be, well…McCluster: the well-rounded, jack-of-all-trades he has been since his days playing in the SEC.
If Daboll and the Chiefs want to maximize McCluster’s full potential in Kansas City, they must have an open mind about how they use him.
Swiss Army Knives are practical for a reason: you don’t have one at your disposal just to use the little plastic toothpick.
Jeremy Sickel is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.