This year’s Chiefs wide receiver group is looking to live up to high expectations. Whether you use the word speed, fastest, or most explosive, many people believe the Chiefs wide receivers are the best on paper. While the outlook for this group was cloudy earlier in the offseason, things have cleared up. Tyreek Hill will be presumably active for the entire season. Mecole Hardman is bursting onto the scene quickly. Then for Sammy Watkins, he says this is the best that he has felt entering a season. With that in mind the bottom of the depth chart is loaded, and some tough cuts will have to be made. Now, it’s time for us to begin predicting which wide receivers will make the roster.
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Wide Receivers on the current roster: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, Gehrig Dieter, Byron Pringle, Cody Thompson, De’Anthony Thomas, Rashard Davis, Jamal Custis, Felton Davis, Joe Fortson, Jalen Tolliver
Taking It Up A Notch
When Tyreek Hill entered the league, he was strictly a returner or gadget player. It wasn’t until the end of his rookie season in 2016, when he saw increased reps as a receiver. Hill has taken it up a notch or raised his game to the next level each year since then. The part of his game that continues to grow the most is his route running. He already has the top speed in the league. You add in better footwork and breaks on route stems, Hill becomes even more dangerous. What’s more, Hill’s numbers in receptions and receiving yards have increased each season. Also, he now has scored 34 total touchdowns in his first three seasons.
Praying For Health
For Sammy Watkins, he needs to noticeably take it up a notch in a crucial year. Entering the second year of a three year deal, Watkins needs to stay healthy and available for clutch moments. He started last season out well through Week 9. But in that game at the Browns, Watkins hurt his foot trying to make a cut. From there, he didn’t play in a full game until the playoffs. In the postseason, Watkins looked good. He hauled in 10 passes for 176 yards, and made things tougher for opponents to defend all over the field.
However had Watkins been healthy the entire season, he would have likely reached career highs in receptions and yards. As mentioned earlier, Watkins feels like this is the most healthy he has been entering a season. Trying to keep it that way won’t be easy, but the Chiefs are more aware of how to handle Watkins compared to last year.
Don’t Get Caught Sleeping
I feel like every other wide receiver is a sleeper candidate for this season. But this is more true for Demarcus Robinson and rookie Mecole Hardman. Robinson finally saw an increase in snaps last year, despite not always getting a lot of catches. Robinson recorded a touchdown catch in three straight games to end the regular season. Where he shined most last season, was making contested catches. If his role increases this year, look for more tough catches from Robinson.
Many thought Mecole Hardman was drafted for Tyreek Hill insurance during this hectic offseason. But it’s been clear for a little while now that Hardman adds another dynamic layer to the offense. His speed is one thing, and he is also being used similar to how Hill was entering the league. But, Hardman is more advanced as a receiver than Hill was at this point. That’s big for this Chiefs offense.
Gehrig Dieter seemed like a prime candidate to make the roster. But a back injury has kept him out of practice basically since training camp opened. Because of the depth the Chiefs have at wide receiver, as well as the practice reps he has missed, Dieter will be a practice squad body at best.
Meanwhile, there is great potential to be reached with Byron Pringle and Cody Thompson. Pringle has all the physical traits there, he just needs to become a more consistent pass catcher. Thompson, a UDFA signing this year, had a really strong training camp. He also had graded out as one of the top receivers in the preseason so far. Thompson has the ability to be reliable, due to his automatic hands. If he does indeed make the team, there’s a chance Thompson could get plenty of snaps in five wide formations.
Unfortunately for Marcus Kemp, he was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL/MCL in the second preseason game. He was picking up steam as a receiver, and could have been one of the last few to make the team. Following that, the Chiefs brought back De’Anthony Thomas. I could be wrong about him not making the team. I’m not really sure what extra he brings to the table though, compared to other players. The wide receiver core is strong, and there is more than a few that can handle return duties.
Final Depth Chart:
1) Tyreek Hill
2) Sammy Watkins
3) Demarcus Robinson
4) Mecole Hardman
5) Byron Pringle
6) Cody Thompson
Practice Squad: Gehrig Dieter, maybe Jamal Custis
That will wrap it up for roster predictions for wide receiver. Up next, we will predict which tight ends make the squad. For now, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage for more sports and NFL content.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.