It's no secret the Kansas City Chiefs feature some of the top offensive skill position players in the NFL, and according to ESPN's Bill Barnwell, there's no better group in the league.
Barnwell ranked all 32 teams based on their pass-catchers earlier this week - analyzing each squad's collective talent at wide receiver, tight end and running back independent of quarterback play – and even without Patrick Mahomes factoring into the equation, Barnwell slotted the Chiefs at No. 1 on his list.
Here's a portion of what Barnwell had to say about the Chiefs' receiving corps:
"The Chiefs rank first for the second time in three years because they're so deep with receiving options. Travis Kelce is the NFL's most productive receiving tight end. Over his three seasons as a starter, Tyreek Hill is sixth in receiving yards and fourth in yards per route run among wide receivers…Sammy Watkins racked up 288 receiving yards when the Chiefs needed him in the playoffs, the second-highest total of the postseason. Mecole Hardman quietly averaged 1.90 yards per route run; he only caught 26 passes, but nearly 35% of them went for 20 or more yards, which was the fifth-highest rate in the league. Every one of these guys is a threat to score from anywhere on the field."
Indeed, the Chiefs' wide receiver and tight end groups impressed early and often in 2019.
Kelce led all tight ends with 97 grabs and 1,229 receiving yards, becoming the first player at his position in NFL history to tally four-consecutive 1,000+ yard campaigns. The receiver group, meanwhile, featured four players with at least 450 yards on the season. Hill topped that list with 860 yards and seven touchdowns in just 12 games while Watkins (673 yards, 3 touchdowns), Hardman (538 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Demarcus Robinson (449 yards, 4 touchdowns) all made major contributions throughout the year.
The Chiefs' elite production through the air didn't stop there, either. Tailback Damien Williams recorded 37 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season before chipping in another 11 grabs for 94 yards and two scores in the postseason, representing a valuable weapon in the passing game out of the backfield.
Here's more from Barnwell on Williams:
"Damien Williams has generally been productive when healthy. He has had 15 games as Kansas City's primary back over the past two seasons, and in those contests, he has carried the ball 205 times for 1,006 yards (4.9 yards per carry), caught 61 passes for 498 additional yards and scored 19 touchdowns. That's basically Aaron Jones' 2019 regular season, and a significant chunk of Williams' work has come in the postseason."
And to make matters even more exciting, the Chiefs added perhaps the top pass-catching running back available in the draft with the addition of LSU tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The first-round pick was a star on the ground for the Tigers in 2019, rushing for 1,414 yards and an SEC-leading 16 scores, but he also possesses dynamic abilities in the passing game. Edwards-Helaire caught 55 passes for 453 yards last season, averaging 8.2 yards-per-catch and setting an LSU single-season record for receptions by a tailback.
Here's a bit more from Barnwell:
"Only two backs in the nation averaged more yards per route run last season than the LSU star Edwards-Helaire, who is perfectly capable of splitting out as a receiver and winning matchups at the line of scrimmage…It's just enough to push the Chiefs ahead of the Browns and Cowboys for the top spot."
Barnwell's analysis stopped with those players, but the Chiefs' depth in the receiving game certainly extends further. Third-year receiver Byron Pringle flashed at times in 2019 with 12 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown while tailback Darrel Williams, whose season was cut short due to injury, chipped in three games with at least 50 yards through the air.
All of those players form the top group of pass-catchers in the NFL according to Barnwell, from the steady production annually compiled by Kelce to the dynamic potential offered by Edwards-Helaire, making the Chiefs' chances of defending their Super Bowl title in 2020 all the more realistic.
For a look at Barnwell's rankings, click here.