There are many reasons to believe the Kansas City Chiefs will be a significantly improved squad for 2009.
Among the most significant changes are a new GM, new head coach, new starting quarterback, new defensive coordinator, and two new starting linebackers. There will be a re-vamped defensive look, moving eventually to a 3-4 with changes in roles for many of the Chiefs interior lineman from last year.
There is also the sting of losing hall of fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Atlanta Falcons.
The unit which is potentially in the most need for an upgrade following the off-season flurry of movement is the wide receivers. The Chiefs did add solid when healthy veteran Bobby Engram, Terrance Copper, and drafted Quenten Lawrence.
Read the opinions of those who bleed red, and you will be convinced this is a serviceable unit. Read the opinions of those who cheer for the other 31 teams in the league and you will find our unit laughable, and arguably one of the worst in the league.
Here is my take on the Chiefs receivers and what they bring to the table.
Dwayne Bowe: Strong and tough, Bowe has elevated his game each of his first two seasons. The Chiefs will count on him to be their go to guy in tough situations. Opposing defenses will pay plenty of attention to him with no other legitimate threat on the roster.
Mark Bradley: Entering the league as a second round selection of the Bears in 2005, Bradley has quietly underachieved. He did show sparks of production last year, actually finishing third on the team in receptions with 30. Right now, it looks as Bradley could be the early favorite to be the team's second WR.
Bobby Engram: When healthy, Engram is a solid slot receiver. He is only two years removed from a 94-catch, 1147 yard season in Seattle and has caught more than 50 balls six times in his career. However, at 36 years of age, expectations for Engram must be held in check.
Devard Darling: Acquired as an UFA in 2008 from Baltimore, Darling has some impressive physical attributes, but has yet to make that mean much on the field. He had only 17 receptions last year despite playing in all 16 games.
Jeff Webb: After a promising sophomore season in which he caught 28 passes in 2007, Webb seemed to disappear in 2008, being active in only five games. He looks the part at 6-2 and 200 plus, but as noted with Bradley and Darling, has yet to realize his potential.
Terrance Copper: I thought Copper was on the verge of a breakout season after his 3rd campaign in 2006 with New Orleans, filling in admirably for Joe Horn as a spot starter. Since that time, Copper has done nothing. Honestly, I find it difficult to imagine he can make this roster.
Quenten Lawrence: Drafted in the 6th round out of McNeese State, Lawrence had his senior season cut short by a lower leg injury. Athletic and fast, Lawrence is already one of the more impressive physical specimens in this group. First year receivers tend to struggle in the NFL, and it appears a long shot for him to contribute.
Summary: An improved offensive line and a re-committed running game are necessary for this group to have success. The Chiefs starting quarterback, and no, I'm not ready to hand the reigns to Mr. Cassel just yet, will likely find moving the chains a challenge with this unimpressive group.
Hopefully, this group can mature in to a solid unit, but my objective study of these players has me worried.
One more plead for Anquan!