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Pre-Camp Breakdown: Examining the Chiefs' Crowded Wide Receiver Corps

The Chiefs currently feature 14 wide receivers on the roster heading into training camp

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to kick off training camp in just a few short weeks, and with the annual pilgrimage to St. Joseph nearly here, we're examining every position group on the roster heading into camp.

Here's a look at what we've covered so far: QB | RB | TE

We'll continue with wide receiver, where the Chiefs currently employ 14 players. This is one of the most interesting position groups on the roster, which also makes it difficult to project. Here's what quarterback Patrick Mahomes had to say about the Chiefs' wide receiver corps earlier this offseason:

"I think we're deep. I think that's the biggest thing. Usually, you have a good feel for kind of who [is going to make the team] and everything like that, but with this group, it's like [I can see a path for every single guy making the team]," Mahomes said. "That's what you want. You want that competition. Even the young guys who have stepped in have done a lot of great things, and guys from other systems have stepped in and done great things. So, [there's] a lot of competition in that room that will play out through [offseason practices] and camp, but I'm happy with where we're at in that receiving room."

As Mahomes indicated, this year's group of wide receivers features a blend of new and returning players, but above all, the depth and potential at the position is exciting. Here's a closer look at each member of the wide receiver corps, listed in alphabetical order.

Kekoa Crawford

The Chiefs signed Crawford following a successful tryout at mandatory minicamp last month. Crawford, who checks in at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, also participated in the Chiefs' rookie minicamp in May. The 25-year-old Crawford tallied 40 receptions for 513 yards at the University of California in 2021, including 14 catches of at least 15 yards. It was a strong finish to a collegiate career that began at the University of Michigan (2016-17) before ending at Cal (2019-21).

The speedy Crawford recorded a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at Cal's pro day last offseason, and while he didn't hear his name called during the 2022 NFL Draft, Crawford signed with the Indianapolis Colts shortly afterward as an undrafted free agent. He was later released the day before the Colts began training camp, however, and is still seeking his first game action as a professional.

Crawford will now have an opportunity to show what he can do when the Chiefs head to training camp in a few weeks.

Jerrion Ealy

Ealy is back with the Chiefs after spending much of the 2022 campaign on Kansas City's practice squad. He signed with the Chiefs as a "Reserve/Future" signee on February 14.

A versatile player who is listed as both a wide receiver and a running back on Kansas City's roster, Ealy signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent last offseason. He was a three-time "Second-Team All-SEC" honoree during his time at Ole Miss, racking up 2,235 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground during his three-year career – averaging 5.8 yards-per-attempt across 384 carries – while also contributing as a pass-catcher, hauling in 67 grabs for 545 yards and four touchdowns. Additionally, Ealy impressed in the return game, too. He averaged 25.4 yards-per-kick-return with two touchdowns in his career.

Ty Fryfogle

Fryfogle joined the Chiefs as a "Reserve/Future" signee on January 9. The 24-year-old wide receiver originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys after going undrafted last year, but he was waived following training camp with an injury designation (hamstring) and remained a free agent throughout the 2022 season.

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Fryfogle played his college ball at Indiana, where he was the Big 10 "Receiver of the Year" in 2020 after catching 37 passes for 721 yards and seven touchdowns in eight starts. Fryfogle caught 46 passes for 512 yards and one score the following season.

Richie James

The Chiefs signed James as an unrestricted free agent earlier this offseason after the veteran wide receiver compiled a breakout season with the New York Giants in 2022. James – who checks in at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds – set single-season career-bests in receptions (57), receiving yards (569) and receiving touchdowns (4) last season, tying for the team lead in catches while ranking second in receiving yards. For further context, he would have ranked third on the Chiefs in catches last season (behind only tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster) and fourth in receiving yards (trailing Kelce, Smith-Schuster and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling).

The 27-year-old wide receiver did the majority of his work over the middle of the field last season, hauling in 30 passes (or 53% of his total receptions) between the numbers and beyond the line of scrimmage. Specifically, 19 of those catches took place within nine yards of the snap. James was also sure-handed overall, dropping just three passes on 67 targets.

He is an experienced punt returner, too, as he tallied a team-leading 24 punt returns last season. He averaged 7.3 yards-per-return on those punts.

Cornell Powell

Powell signed with Kansas City as a "Reserve/Future" signee on February 15. The 25-year-old Powell originally joined the Chiefs as a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. A stalwart on the Chiefs' practice squad in each of the last two seasons, Powell earned a promotion to the active roster for three games in 2022. He recorded three offensive snaps and 28 special teams' snaps in those appearances.

Skyy Moore

Moore is entering his second season in Kansas City after catching 22 passes for 250 yards in 2022, but those statistics don't fully articulate his impact on the Chiefs' journey to a world championship. In fact, it was Moore's 29-yard punt return in the final seconds of the AFC Championship Game that set up kicker Harrison Butker's game-winning, 45-yard field goal that sent Kansas City to Super Bowl LVII. Moore then found the end zone for the first time in his career during the Chiefs' victory over Philadelphia, catching 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

It was a tremendous ending to Moore's rookie campaign, and it's something that new Wide Receivers' Coach Connor Embree is hoping the former second-round pick can build on this upcoming season.

"Skyy has been great. We put a lot on him last year. Usually when we get a receiver, we try to keep them at one position [because] it's easier to learn that way, but we threw a lot at him last year. He played every position – all three of them, the 'X, Zebra and Z' [spots]," Embree explained last month. "He came back in great shape. He looks stronger, he's a little bigger, and then he's just got that year under his belt. So, he's not that little puppy dog anymore. He kind of understands what's going on, [and] he understands the tempo we practice at and just how to be a pro, so he's been great."

Nikko Remigio

The Chiefs signed Remigio as a rookie free agent following the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft. Remigio – who stands at 5-foot-9 and 187 pounds – was a four-year contributor (largely as a return man) at the University of California before transferring to Fresno State for the 2022 campaign. He made the most of his fifth year, too, tallying career-bests in receptions (74), receiving yards (852) and receiving touchdowns (6). Remigio was also tied for the FBS lead with two punt return touchdowns.

He was almost exclusively a slot receiver during the entirety of his college career, lining up in the slot on 84 percent of his offensive snaps last season.

Rashee Rice

Kansas City made Rice the No. 55 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after the former SMU wide receiver put together a truly prolific campaign in 2022. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Rice caught 96 passes for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, making him one of only three FBS players to tally at least 1,300 receiving yards. He also led the FBS with 112.9 receiving yards-per-game, earning Second-Team All-America honors for his efforts.

Rice thrived in contested-catch situations, garnering recognition as one of the best ball-winners in his draft class. His leaping ability is a big part of that, which he displayed at the NFL Scouting Combine with the top vertical jump (41 inches) of any receiver.

Here's more from the folks at Pro Football Focus, who credited Rice with 16 contested catches in 2022:

"Rice's ability to adjust to the ball in the air is as good as it gets in this draft class, and he also has some of the best body control in the draft class. That shows with his work at the catch point (16 contested catches last fall)."

Rice was lauded for his abilities after the catch, too. His 33 receptions on screen passes ranked ninth among all players, and his 19 broken tackles ranked 23rd.

Here's more from The Athletic's Dane Brugler, who put it simply enough: "Rice catches the ball with yards-after-the-catch in mind."

Chiefs' Assistant General Manager Mike Borgonzi expressed a similar sentiment following Day 2, saying that Rice is like a tailback once he has the football in his hands:

"He's a big kid and he's explosive. He'll go up and get the football, and once catches it, he's violent. He's like a running back after the catch. That's a big part of our offense here."

John Ross

Ross signed with the Chiefs as a "Reserve/Future" signee late last year. A former first round pick, the Cincinnati Bengals made Ross the No. 9 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Ross was the third receiver taken that year due in part to his blazing, 4.22-second 40-yard dash, which remains the fastest time ever recorded at the event since the electronic clock was introduced in 1999.

Ross went on to appear in 27 games (20 starts) for Cincinnati over the next four seasons, catching 51 passes for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns. His best statistical year was in 2019, when he hauled in 28 receptions for 506 yards and three scores in eight games. Ross most recently appeared in 10 games for the New York Giants in 2021, catching 11 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown. He didn't take the field in 2022, but at still just 27 years old, Ross is seeking a fresh start in Kansas City.

Justyn Ross

One of the top undrafted free agents available on the open market last offseason, Ross adds another intriguing option to the Chiefs' wide receiver room as a 6-foot-4, 210-pound playmaker who can haul in contested catches.

Originally the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in the nation out of high school, Ross took the country by storm as a freshman at Clemson in 2018. He caught 46 passes for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns that season, racking up 12 grabs for 301 yards and three scores during Clemson's College Football Playoff victories over Notre Dame and Alabama. Ross' strong performance led to rumblings that he could be an eventual first-round pick when he became eligible, but injuries unfortunately got in the way. Ross missed the entirety of the 2020 campaign due to spinal surgery, and while he was back on the field in 2021 and played well with 46 grabs for 514 yards and three touchdowns in 10 starts, a foot injury sidelined him for the final three games of the year.

Ross landed on Injured Reserve last July due to foot surgery, but now healthy, he'll have a chance to show what he can do in training camp.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Smith-Marsette signed with Kansas City as a "Reserve/Future" signee on February 14. A fifth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2021, Smith-Marsette joined the Chiefs' practice squad in October of last year. He went on to appear in two games for the Chiefs, logging 12 snaps on offense and one snap on special teams.

Smith-Marsette has 16 career appearances to his name, catching six passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in that time. He checks in at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds.

Kadarius Toney

The Chiefs acquired Toney in a trade with the New York Giants on October 27 of last year, and while new wide receivers often have trouble picking up Head Coach Andy Reid's offense mid-season, the 24-year-old Toney became a contributor nearly right away.

He went on to appear in seven regular season games for the Chiefs, tallying 14 grabs for 171 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his role in Super Bowl LVII that was truly memorable. First, Toney caught a 5-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that provided Kansas City with its first lead of the game. Then, only a handful of snaps later, Toney recorded a 65-yard punt return – the longest in Super Bowl history – that ultimately set up another score.

Those were just two snaps, but they each demonstrated Toney's electric ability to change the game at any moment. He's undoubtedly one of the best athletes on the Chiefs' roster, and if he can stay healthy, the former first-round pick will have every opportunity to show what he can do in 2023.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Valdes-Scantling is entering his second season with the Chiefs after catching a career-high 42 passes for 687 yards and two touchdowns in 2022. His seven catches of 25+ yards ranked second on the team behind only tight end Travis Kelce (13), and his 16.4 average-yards-per-catch led the squad among qualified players. In fact, that mark ranked fourth in the NFL behind only the Miami Dolphins' Jaylen Waddle (18.1), the Buffalo Bills' Gabe Davis (17.4) and the Philadelphia Eagles' A.J. Brown (17.0).

The 28-year-old Valdes-Scantling was a critical component of the Chiefs' postseason run, too, as he caught seven passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns in Kansas City's three playoff games.

Overall, Valdes-Scantling possesses the speed to stretch the field and also the size (6-foot-4, 206 pounds) to be a physical presence in the red zone. Now entering his second season in the Chiefs' offense, and with former wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster no longer in town, Valdes-Scantling could be in store for a larger role in 2023.

Justin Watson

The 27-year-old Watson serves as a great example of how players can emerge during the offseason training program to ultimately make the team. Watson – who joined the Chiefs as a free agent last offseason – impressed enough throughout the summer to not only earn a roster spot, but also carve out a role as a contributor. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Watson caught 15 passes for 315 yards and two scores in 2022, averaging 21 yards-per-reception.

He'll aim to build on that strong performance in 2023 as another versatile playmaker capable of handling multiple roles within the Chiefs' offense.

The Bottom Line

The Chiefs chose to keep five wide receivers on the Week 1 roster last season after keeping six in both 2020 and 2021. It's reasonable to assume that Valdes-Scantling, Moore, Toney and Rice are all good bets to make the team barring an unforeseen development, likely leaving one to two spots remaining for the other 10 wide receivers currently on the roster. That means players such as James, Watson, Justyn Ross, John Ross and others – many of whom would have been considered locks on previous rosters – will be competing throughout camp and the preseason to make the squad. It may very well come down to who can contribute the most on special teams.

Some tough decisions will need to be made during final roster cuts in early September, but it's ultimately a good problem to have. The Chiefs are set to feature a deep group of wide receivers that will include contributors up and down the depth chart, and the competition in camp should bring out the best from this collective group.

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