Kansas City Chiefs: Why Dexter McCluster Is the Most Important Offensive Player

Christopher Amick@https://twitter.com/#!/TheAmickCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 27:  Running back Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs kneels in prayer prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 27, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

He stands at just a shade over 5'8", but Dexter McCluster needs to play big this season if the Kansas City Chiefs want to be playoff contenders.

McCluster's career could not have started any better than it did in 2010. The Ole Miss standout scored on a 94-yard punt return in a thrilling win over San Diego in his first NFL game.

Since then, it has been somewhat of a mixed bag for McCluster. Fans have been anxiously waiting for McCluster to have offensive impact like Darren Sproles and Wes Welker, but it simply has not happened yet.

McCluster made the transition from receiver to running back last season, and when injuries decimated the Chief's backfield, he did a admirable job of filling in.

It still seemed like McCluster was a man without a home in Todd Haley's offense. He caught 46 passes out of the backfield in 2011, but McCluster has yet to leave his offensive imprint at the NFL level.

This year is his year to change that.

With his small stature, McCluster is never going to be a reliable every-down runner, and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll knows this.

Daboll is switching McCluster back to wideout, and during this preseason, he and quarterback Matt Cassel look to have formed some real cohesiveness in Daboll's scheme. 

McCluster is being used primarily in the the slot and has run a variety of crossing patterns with real success. He has also been Cassel's favorite target so far.

Getting looks alongside talented teammates like Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin is going to be tough for the third-year pro, but if McCluster can excel in his new role, the Chiefs will boast one of the most potent offenses in the league.

McCluster doesn't have to become a elite starter and climb the depth chart. All he has to do his convert some critical third downs and use his speed to create some big plays in the passing game.

Every offensive NFL juggernaut now goes very deep at wide receiver, and if the Chiefs want to win the division and make noise in the playoffs, McCluster is going to have play a huge role.