Chiefs address another pre-draft need with WR Devon Wylie in 4th round

Posted Apr 28, 2012

Kansas City struggled to find a consistency at slot receiver last season

Devon Wylie says he’s heard the Wes Welker comparisons nearly every day of his life. All he can do is laugh.

It’s meant as compliment of course. Undersized but speedy, Wylie works with 4.3 speed out of the slot. He runs the bubble screens and reverses, returns kicks and even gets thrown into the Wildcat at times.

NFL teams covet speed and versatility from slot receivers and Wylie saw his stock rise accordingly after an impressive NFL Combine in February.

“The scouts kind of told me that my stock rose,” said Wylie, who ran a 4.39 second 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times despite weighing just 186 pounds.

“Coaches said it in the sense of, ‘Wylie went out and did well at the combine. He’s ready to go; his stock has risen.’ The coaches told me when I talked to them, ‘Hey we’d love to have you, but you might get picked up before.’ There was a sense of knowing that I was more valuable after the combine and that I might not make it to certain teams.”

While Wylie’s physical testing helped his draft stock, durability was also something NFL teams had to consider with his size and injury history.

Wylie took a medical redshirt in 2010 after suffering a stress fracture in his foot during summer camp. He played in the season opener before Fresno’s medical staff was able to diagnose the injury.

“There was a play early on in training camp where a guy, I had him beat, and he pulled me down and my foot had a stress fracture,” Wylie explained. “So I played all the way through training camp and the first game with that foot fracture. After that game it was unbearable, so they x-rayed it, found it and said you know what, let’s put a pin in it, redshirt you finally and have you ready for the 2011 season.

“In this last season, I was able to prove that I can make it through the season explosively, and I made it all the way through the All-Star game and I made it all the way through the combine, pro day. Everything is on the right path, and everything is going well.”

Specific to the Chiefs situation at wide receiver, Wylie fills a depth issue after Kansas City’s 1-2-3 punch of Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin.

Kansas City struggled to find consistency out of the slot last season and even turned to Keary Colbert despite a near two-year absence from the NFL. Colbert was coaching at USC before signing with the Chiefs as a long-shot to make the team last August.

If it wasn’t Colbert, veteran Jerheme Urban was typically aligned in the slot. Neither player is currently with the team.

Much of Kansas City’s inconsistencies at inside receiver were due to Baldwin’s preseason thumb injury, but Breaston continued to work as an outside option opposite Bowe even when Baldwin returned at mid-season.

Breaston is a candidate to move inside this season if Baldwin can show significant year-two growth, but building depth a wide receiver was still a pre-draft need regardless of how Kansas City’s top-three align.

“Breaston, he provided us some plays last year,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “Baldwin, his growth got delayed a little bit last year because  he didn’t get out there as much as we wanted him out there. But he has a good attitude, he’s working hard at it, so if he continues to develop, I think we’ll have a good, competitive group.”

Excluding receptions from running backs and tight ends, the Chiefs garnered just 21 catches for 238 yards (11.3 avg.) last season from wide receivers not named Bowe, Breaston or Baldwin. That includes the first two months of the season while Baldwin sat inactive.

Colbert finished the year as the team’s fourth-leading wide receiver despite playing in just seven games. The veteran posted nine catches for 89 yards before he received his release in late November.

“The guys who are here are excited to be here, they’re working hard so I feel good about those guys in the building,” Crennel said of the team’s receiving core.

Wylie joins Terrance Copper, Jeremy Horne, Jamar Newsome and Zeke Markshausen in the competition for roster spots behind Bowe, Breaston and Baldwin.

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