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

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

The Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver corps is among the most talented in the NFL, from superstars like Tyreek Hill to young playmakers such as Mecole Hardman.

The depth chart features guys like Byron Pringle – a former undrafted free agent who has deservingly worked his way into the starting rotation – and veteran Demarcus Robinson, whose catch totals have increased in each of his five professional seasons. There's also rookie Cornell Powell, who Kansas City selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Those are the names most folks are familiar with heading into training camp, but that group makes up just five of the 14 wide receivers who will take the field up in St. Joseph later this month.

Here's a closer look at all 14 wide receivers currently on the Chiefs' roster.

Tyreek Hill

Hill is simply among the best wideouts in the game, growing beyond the label of just an electric speedster into an all-around receiver whose route-running, leaping prowess and hands are second to none.

The numbers back it up, too. Hill ranks first in the NFL over the last three seasons in grabs of 25+ yards (45), second in receiving touchdowns (34) and seventh in receiving yards (3,615). Additionally, on throws of at least 20 yards downfield, Hill leads the NFL in receptions (56), receiving yards (2,240), receiving touchdowns (25) and yards-per-target (19.1) since 2017.

The man is a big-play machine who's a threat to score at any moment, and at still just 27 years old, it's exciting to imagine how much better he can be moving forward.

Mecole Hardman

Now entering his third year as a professional, Hardman has been one of the better young big-play threats in the NFL during his brief career. After tallying 26 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 – the sixth-most receiving scores among rookies that year – Hardman followed up his rookie campaign with another productive season in 2020, hauling in 41 receptions for 560 yards and four touchdowns.

Hardman possesses blazing speed and an innate smoothness to his game that's most evident when he's seemingly effortlessly weaving through traffic. He's a viable deep threat who can take the top off the defense – as we saw in Week 3 of last season with his 49-yard touchdown grab vs. Baltimore – or a playmaker who can cut and maneuver his way up the field, as demonstrated by his 50-yard rush against Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game.

Hardman has skills that you simply cannot teach, and now entering his third season in the league, he'll look to take his game to the next level – particularly with former wide receiver Sammy Watkins no longer on the team.

Demarcus Robinson

A five-year veteran, Robinson is matched only by Hill in terms of his tenure with the team among the wide receivers. He's been a steady contributor in that time, gradually seeing his catch totals increase every season of his career. Robinson has been particularly productive over the last two years, recording at least 30 receptions, 450+ yards and 3+ touchdowns in each.

He's also been reliable, suiting up for all 16 games in each of his five seasons. Much like Hardman, Robinson will likely have an increased opportunity to make plays with Watkins no longer in the fold.

Byron Pringle

A classic case of an individual who's worked their way up the depth chart, Pringle has seen his offensive snap counts increase in each of the last two years after spending his rookie campaign on Injured Reserve in 2018.

He was on the field for 146 offensive snaps in 2019 - hauling in 12 receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown – before tallying 239 offensive snaps last season while catching 13 passes for 160 yards and a score. Again, with Watkins no longer in town, Pringle could receive even more opportunities in 2021.

Pringle has also been a major contributor on special teams over the last two seasons, recording 433 special teams' snaps in that time (248 in 2019, 185 in 2020). That included 10 plays as a kick returner in 2020, one of which Pringle brought back for a 102-yard touchdown against the Broncos in Week 7.

Overall, he's grown into an all-around contributor who has helped the Chiefs win games. From an undrafted free agent to a significant player on both offense and special teams, Pringle is an example of the kind of player great teams develop.

Cornell Powell

The Chiefs selected Powell in the fifth round (No. 181 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft after the six-foot-tall, 210-pound receiver hauled in 53 receptions for 882 yards and seven touchdowns at Clemson University in 2020.

A big-play machine, Powell brought in seven contested catches on balls thrown at least 10 yards downfield while tallying four catches of at least 50 yards. He recorded at least one catch of 20+ yards in seven of his final eight games for the Tigers last season, leading the team with a 16.6 yards-per-catch average.

There's certainly a learning curve when it comes to translating that production to the next level, but Powell has shown that he possesses the tools necessary to develop into a capable offensive weapon in the NFL. He'll now have an opportunity to show that to the coaching staff during camp.

Gehrig Dieter

Originally an undrafted free agent signee back in 2017, Dieter has consistently impressed the coaching staff enough to remain with the organization in each of the last four seasons. He's appeared in 10 games during that time, taking the field four times in 2018, twice in 2019 and four times last season.

He's demonstrated the ability to play on special teams - logging 60 percent of the Chiefs' snaps on special teams during his four games of action in 2020 – and while he hasn't had many opportunities on the field offensively during his career, Dieter has proven to be a reliable option when called upon.

Antonio Callaway

Callaway is a great example of a player with impressive talent who may benefit from a change of scenery. Originally a fourth-round pick of the Browns back in 2018, Callaway hauled in 43 receptions for 586 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (11 starts) during his rookie campaign with Cleveland.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Callaway has played in just nine games over the last two seasons due to various suspensions, however, and is now seeking a fresh start with Kansas City. He signed a Reserve/Futures contract in January and has been working through the Chiefs' offseason program in the time since, positioning himself for a shot to make the roster during camp.

Marcus Kemp

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Kemp has spent parts of each of the last four seasons with Kansas City in some capacity, appearing in 27 games for the Chiefs since 2017. He took the field once in 2017 before seeing action in all 16 games the following year, carving out a role as a core contributor on special teams. In fact, Kemp's 299 special teams' plays that year ranked third on the team.

Kemp spent the 2019 campaign on Injured Reserve and then re-joined the active roster last season for 10 games, once again contributing as a key player on special teams (163 plays) while bouncing back and forth between the active roster and the practice squad.

The 25-year-old hasn't seen much action on offense during his time with Kansas City - recording two grabs for 18 yards - but his four years of experience around the playbook is matched or bested by only Dieter (4 years), Hill (5 years) and Robinson (5 years). That kind of experience – not to mention his contributions on special teams – is certainly a valuable commodity to have.

Maurice Ffrench

An undrafted free agent signee last offseason, Ffrench spent the 2020 campaign as a member of the Chiefs' practice squad. He was a do-it-all star at the University of Pittsburgh before joining Kansas City, amassing 2,832 all-purpose yards during his career while finding the end zone as a receiver, a ball-carrier and a return man.

Ffrench's senior season was particularly impressive, as he led the nation in catches-per-game (8.7) while breaking Larry Fitzgerald's single-season school record with 96 receptions.

Chris Finke

Finke signed with Kansas City in early May after spending parts of last season on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad. An undrafted free agent signee of the 49ers last offseason, Finke caught 31 passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns during his final season at Notre Dame in 2019.

Nicknamed the "Slippery Fox" during his time with the Irish due to his elusiveness, the 5-foot-9, 186-pound Finke also has extensive experience as a punt returner.

Daurice Fountain

Another example of a former draft pick looking to make the most of a new opportunity, Fountain was a fifth-round selection of the Indianapolis Colts back in 2018. He bounced between the Colts' active roster and practice squad during his time there, missing the entire 2019 campaign due to an injury.

He's appeared in just six games during his young career, but his combination of size (6-foot-2, 210-pounds), speed (4.46 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in 2018) and explosiveness (his 42-inch vertical jump and a 134-inch broad jump marks at his Pro Day would have led all receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine had he been invited) is certainly hard to come by.

He showed off those skills during an impressive tryout during rookie minicamp earlier this offseason, ultimately earning a contract with the Chiefs.

Dalton Schoen

A local product, Schoen is a native of nearby Overland Park and played his college ball at Kansas State. Originally a walk-on for the Wildcats, Schoen tallied 92 grabs for 1,569 yards and nine scores during his impressive career in Manhattan from 2017-19.

He signed with the Los Angeles Chargers after going undrafted in 2020 but was cut prior to the season and spent last year as a free agent before signing a Reserve/Futures contract with Kansas City in February.

Still just 24 years old, Schoen will look to show what he can do during camp.

Chiefs 2021 rookie class participate in day one of Rookie Mini Camp.

Chad Williams

A former third-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals back in 2017, Williams spent the majority of last season on the Chiefs' practice squad and signed a Reserve/Futures contract in January.

A big man at 6-foot-2 and 204 pounds, Williams spent the first two years of his career with the Cardinals, hauling in 20 receptions for 202 yards and a touchdown across 16 games (8 starts). He joined the Colts' practice squad after being cut by Arizona prior to the 2019 campaign, going on to appear in one game for Indianapolis that year.

The Chiefs signed him to their practice squad in late September of last season and he's been around the organization for much of the time since. Much like Callaway and Fountain, Williams is an example of a player whose talent warranted a high draft selection not too long ago, and his inclusion in camp is an opportunity to make the most of a fresh start.

Darrius Shepherd

Another local product, Shepherd is an alum of Blue Springs High School. He played his college ball at North Dakota State - helping the Bison to three FCS national championships during his time there as a star receiver and punt returner – before joining the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

Shepherd went on to appear in 14 games for Green Bay over the last two seasons – hauling in six grabs for 47 yards – but he recorded the bulk of his contributions as a return man, handling 20 kickoffs for 374 yards (9 in 2019, 11 in 2020).

He was one of a handful of players to try out for the Chiefs during minicamp and impressed enough to earn himself a contract.

The Bottom Line

The Chiefs feature one of the game's best receivers in Hill, who has a legitimate claim as the league's most electric playmaker. They also employ a formidable and familiar trio in Hardman, Robinson, and Pringle - each of whom will have an opportunity to take another step forward in 2021.

The continued development of those four will certainly be a storyline to watch in camp and as the season gets underway – especially as it relates to replacing Watkins' snaps on offense - but there's also intrigue with this group when looking at the other 10 receivers on the roster in the context of who will separate themselves from the rest.

There's of course Powell - who impressed the Chiefs enough in college to hear his name called in the fifth round a few months ago – and the trio of former draft picks in Callaway, Fountain and Williams. Dieter and Kemp have more experience with the playbook than just about anyone, while Ffrench, Finke, Shepherd and Schoen are still young players looking to show what they can do.

Kansas City featured six receivers on the roster heading into Week 1 last season (and 5 in 2019), so there's room for the less familiar names on the depth chart – whoever they may be from the names we've covered - to earn themselves a spot on the team heading into 2021. Camp is all about collective improvement through competition, and the overall talent vying for the last couple spots in the wide receiver room is exciting to think about when looking at this group.

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