Kansas City's Wide Receiver Breakdown: Full Evaluation and Depth Chart Analysis
With Alex Smith under center for the Kansas City Chiefs, the offense could see more success.
Despite having one of the top receivers in the NFL in Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs have had one of the worst passing games for the past three seasons. In 2010, Bowe led the league in touchdowns with 15, but the Chiefs finished 30th through the air. The following year, Kansas City improved, but still struggled and finished 25th. Last year, during a grueling two-win season, the Chiefs finished last.
With Andy Reid now taking charge in Kansas City, how will the wide receivers do? Can Bowe find consistency with Smith? Can the Chiefs find a true No. 2 receiver?
Since 2007, Bowe has played like one of the top receivers in the game, but not all the time. There are other times when he shows he has a lot of room for improvement.
Consistency has definitely been an issue with Bowe. However, he's not completely at fault. During his NFL debut, Damon Huard was his quarterback. Since that game, Bowe has worked with seven different starting quarterbacks in Kansas City.
Last year, Bowe hit a season low when he caught just three touchdowns. But going behind the stats, his three touchdowns occurred late in games during blowouts. Bowe never scored a meaningful touchdown.
With a new contract, a new coaching staff and Smith as his quarterback, Bowe is on the path to having a comeback season.
Earlier this offseason, Bowe said to Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star that he would lead the league in touchdowns and receptions.
Jon Baldwin is a big wild card for the Chiefs going into training camp. With little to no impact from Baldwin during his first two years, 2013 could be a make-or-break year for him.
The former first-round pick from Pittsburgh has 41 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns in 26 games. He caught only 20 passes last year, one catch fewer than his rookie season.
Baldwin has not lived up to expectations and could receive the bust label if he puts up similar numbers in 2013.
With Smith as his quarterback, Baldwin has a chance to prove he can be a viable No. 2 receiver on the team. If he plays to his potential, the Chiefs passing game could go from the worst to one of the most competitive units in the league.
Going into the 2012 season, Dexter McCluster was not sure what his primary role would be. Despite a rough season all around, McCluster stepped up and was second on the team in receptions.
In his third year, McCluster was more active on the receiving side and set single-season career highs in receptions (52) and yards (452). As a rusher, McCluster ran the ball just 12 times, the fewest he's ever had, while focusing more on his role as a receiver.
Under Reid, fans can expect McCluster to be more involved and get a lot of touches this year. How many of them will be in the passing game and how many on the ground? It is hard to predict. But with his versatility and Reid's offense mixed together, McCluster may finally be as dominant as he was during his tenure at Ole Miss.
In his one year with the Indianapolis Colts, Donnie Avery rose above expectations and set career highs in receptions and yards with Andrew Luck as his quarterback. If things don't work out with Baldwin, Avery could be the next option to consider as the No. 2 wide receiver.
However, Avery was limited in offseason practices this spring due to injury and didn't fully participate with the team. Regardless, he is expected to be ready in training camp.
The Chiefs have had a myriad of No. 2 receivers come and go since 2008. If Baldwin can reach his potential and Avery can be another weapon, Smith would have a lot of options and make Kansas City a powerhouse passing team.
Since joining the Chiefs in 2009, Terrance Copper has made a living mostly as a contributor on special teams, not at wide receiver. He's caught only eight passes in each of the last two seasons and 38 in his four years in Kansas City.
Copper will likely fight for a spot on the team. But with a new regime in town and some young receivers trying to compete for a spot, Copper must have an impressive training camp and preseason to try and keep his job for a fifth season in Kansas City.
As a rookie, Devon Wylie was watching from the sidelines for most of the season. However, due to Bowe's injury, Wylie saw a little bit more action in the final three games and began to accumulate statistics.
Wylie's most consequential skill is his speed. Reid loves using fast players in his offense, and Wylie fits Reid's offense.
But like many young, late-round picks, Wylie must have a good month in August in order to be part of the team in September and onward.
Players on the Bubble
Among the wide receivers listed on this slide, only a couple will be either on the 53-man roster or on the practice squad, while the rest are let go.
For these players, coaches will look to see how they do on special teams and eventually on offense, if given the chance.
Rico Richardson went undrafted, but has the ability to sneak into the 53-man roster. While prepping at Jackson State, Richardson finished last season with 1,158 receiving yards, the fifth most in school history.
In the six games he played, Jamar Newsome started in two games and came away with five catches for 73 yards. Under a new coaching staff, those numbers mean nothing. Newsome, who will enter his third year out of Central Florida, was activated last November while on the practice squad for most of the year.
Josh Bellamy spent his rookie season on the practice squad until December. He played in three games, but accumulated no statistics on offense. His minimal duties came on special teams as a returner.
Frankie Hammond had a very quiet senior season at Florida. His 22 receptions for 295 yards and three touchdowns is nothing notable. But like everyone else, he has a chance to make a name for himself in training camp
After being taken in the seventh round in the 2012 NFL draft from Michigan, Junior Hemingway did not play a game until late. When Copper was placed on injured reserve, the Chiefs let Hemingway play the final game of the season in Denver.
Tyler Shoemaker dominated his senior year at Boise State in 2011, when he led the team in yards with 994 and touchdowns with 16. However, that success did not translate into any success in the NFL. Shoemaker was picked up as an undrafted free agent by Tampa Bay last year, but didn't get a chance to play.
Mardy Gilyard was a two-time All-American while playing at Cincinnati, once as a kick returner and once a a wide receiver. But in the NFL, Gilyard has been a journeyman, joining five different franchises since being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.