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2017 NFL Draft: The Case for a Wide Receiver

Posted Apr 14, 2017

Breaking down the Chiefs' receivers and looking at some prospects

Over the past three seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs have seen a consistent uptick in the production from the receiver position as a whole.

Last year, despite veteran Jeremy Maclin missing a chunk of time with a groin injury, the Chiefs saw an increase in receptions from the receiver position for the third straight year.

In 2014, the Chiefs’ receivers combined to catch 152 passes for 1,744 yards, yet they weren’t able to find the end zone that year. But the Chiefs then invested a significant amount of money in veteran free agent Jeremy Maclin and traded up in the 2015 NFL Draft to select Chris Conley.

Those investments paid off, as the Chiefs’ receivers combined for 171 catches for 1,997 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2015. Maclin caught 87 passes for 1,088 yards with eight touchdowns in his debut season in Kansas City.

And then, finally, last year, the group managed to haul in 187 passes for 1,973 yards with 10 touchdowns. That’s impressive considering Maclin, who more than doubled the production of any other receiver in 2015—had about half as much production last season (44 receptions, 536 yards, two touchdowns) as he did the previous year.

A lot of the credit for the leveling off in production last year can be attributed to the play of rookie fifth-round pick Tyreek Hill, who finished with 61 receptions for 593 yards and six touchdowns. Hill also added 267 yards and three touchdowns in the running game, as well as being named a first-team All-Pro punt returner.

Hill, who was technically a running back coming out of college, was the fifth receiver drafted by Dorsey in his four years in Kansas City.

Chiefs Draft History Under John Dorsey - WRs

Year

Round

Pick

Player

Games

College

2016

4

126

Demarcus Robinson

16

Florida

2016

5

165

Tyreek Hill

16

West Alabama

2015

3

76

Chris Conley

32

Georgia

2015

7

233

Da'Ron Brown

 

Northern Illinois

2014

4

124

De'Anthony Thomas

34

Oregon

Here’s a current look at the Chiefs’ receivers group:

Kansas City Chiefs - Current Receivers

NAME

AGE

EXP

COLLEGE

Conley, Chris

24

2

Georgia

Cook, Kenny

24

1

Gardner-Webb

Hill, Tyreek

23

R

West Alabama

Jones, Seantavius

24

1

Valdosta State

Maclin, Jeremy

28

8

Missouri

Robinson, Demarcus

22

R

Florida

Thomas, De'Anthony

24

3

Oregon

Wilson, Albert

24

3

Georgia State

The Chiefs have selected a receiver for three straight years, and with 10 picks in the upcoming draft, there’s a good chance the Chiefs may add another body to that room.

Over the past four years, there has been an average of almost 32 receivers drafted each year, which comes out to about one per team (2016-31, 2015-35, 2014-33, 2013-28).

Who are the top receivers in this draft?

NFL Draft Experts Rank Their Top 5 Receivers in 2017 NFL Draft

Rank

Mike Mayock

Bucky Brooks

Matt Miller

Todd McShay

Mel Kiper

1

Corey Davis
Western Michigan

Mike Williams
Clemson

Mike Williams
Clemson

Corey Davis
Western Michigan

John Ross
Washington

2

Mike Williams
Clemson

John Ross
Washington

Corey Davis
Western Michigan

Mike Williams
Clemson

Mike Williams
Clemson

3

John Ross
Washington

Corey Davis
Western Michigan

John Ross
Washington

John Ross
Washington

Corey Davis
Western Michigan

4

Zay Jones
East Carolina

JuJu Smith-Schuster USC

Zay Jones
East Carolina

Zay Jones
East Carolina

Zay Jones
East Carolina

5

Cooper Kupp
E. Washington

Isiah Ford
Virginia Tech

Cooper Kupp
E. Washington

Curtis Samuel
Ohio State

Curtis Samuel
Ohio State

Five More Intriguing Receivers to Know

Here’s a bit of information on a few more receivers who will be selected outside the first round this year but have traits that should serve them well at the next level.

(Includes excerpts from their NFL.com scouting report)

Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson (5’11”, 199 pounds)

“One-year superstar who delivered monster numbers at Louisiana Tech this year before leaving school early. Plays outside for the Bulldogs, but a little smaller than most teams will like. Henderson excels on catch-and-go throws and nine routes. He lacks the route running to come in and be an effective threat right away, but his kick return ability could get him early work.”

Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp (6’2”, 204 pounds)

“Kupp is the most prolific pass-catcher in Football Championship Subdivision history, setting all-time records in total receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464), and receiving touchdowns (73). He is the son of a former NFL player (Craig was a fifth-round pick in 1990) and grandson of a New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer (Jake was an offensive lineman in the NFL from 1964-75). He won just about every award he could win in his four years with the Eagles, staring with the Jerry Rice Award as the top FCS freshman when he started all 15 games, making 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Kupp fought through an ankle injury but was still an All-American receiver (104-1,431, six TD), third-team punt returner (10-162, TD), and Academic All-American. He won all of those awards again in 2015, in addition to the Walter Payton Award as the FCS's best player as he led the nation in all three major categories (114-1,642, 19 TD). Kupp again proved to be the best receiver in the FCS in 2016, leading all with 117 receptions, 1,700 receiving yards, and 17 receiving touchdowns in another consensus All-American season.

Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds (6’3”, 194 pounds)

“Long and tall, Reynolds is a dangerous vertical threat thanks to his ball tracking and ball skills over eye-popping deep speed. Reynolds is a menace in the red-zone and can mismatch smaller cornerbacks in the air. He lacks play strength which could cause problems for him early in his career against physical corners, but his toughness, work ethic and football intelligence should overcome those concerns and help him carve out a career as a second or third receiver in the league.”

East Carolina’s Zay Jones (6’2”, 201 pounds)

“Possesses high football character and a desire to push himself forward. Record-breaking receptions totals in 2016 were due more to scheme and excessive targets than separation ability or top-end speed. As a one-on-one receiver on the pro level, he will have to prove he has the speed and quickness to uncover against man coverage if he is to become more than just wide receiver depth.”

North Carolina’s Mack Hollins (6’4”, 221 pounds)

“Hollins has four things that teams will look for on Day 3 of the draft -- height, weight, speed and special teams ability. Taller receivers usually need a longer runway for their build-up speed, but Hollins appears to be able to access his top gear relatively early which makes him such a dangerous deep threat considering his above average height. Hollins' ability to cover both punts and kicks should give him early work as he continues to learn the receiver position. Hollins has WR3 potential.”

Why a receiver makes sense for the Chiefs:

The Chiefs’ offense, which already features two All-Pros in tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill, not to mention a solid veteran in Maclin, could always use more playmakers.

With only so many targets in the passing game to go around, the opportunity for immediate production may be a leap for a player joining a complex offense that had 403 passing plays in it last year, but if a player has a unique trait that offers a matchup advantage, there’s a chance that a new body could add another dimension to an offense that already creates problems with Kelce, Hill and Maclin.

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