End Of Season Analysis: Wide Receivers

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Tre begins his evaluation of the Kansas City Chiefs roster on offense, starting with the Wide Receiver position group

We continue this series with the offensive side of the ball and take a look at the wide receivers where some of the tougher decisions will be made.

Wide receivers this season: Mecole Hardman, Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Felton Davis (IR), Marcus Kemp (IR)

Believe it or not, the Chiefs actually finished the season with exactly five receivers on their active roster, and they actually played from Week 13 to the end of the season that way. Thank God no one else got hurt, right?

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Byron Pringle

Stats: 19 of 19 games, 12 receptions 170 yards, one touchdown, 14.2 yards per reception.

We’ll start with Byron Pringle, who had a somewhat interesting season. The second year wide receiver was active for every game this year, and to be quite frank he kind of had to be, because the Chiefs didn’t actually keep that many on their active roster.

As mentioned earlier, they only finished the season with five active receivers and there were weeks at the beginning and middle of the season where they would play with only four active wide receivers. Luckily for the Chiefs, Travis Kelce doubles as a wide receiver and the Chiefs could survive that.

Byron Pringle’s biggest moment came early in the season during the Detroit Lions game, when he caught a ball during the Chiefs game-winning drive and got absolutely crunched, but still held on to the ball to help secure a victory for the Chiefs.

We don’t know the full extent of Pringle’s skillset, and whether or not we will ever get to see that skillset will be dependent on what happens this offseason.

Status for next year: Keep him

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Mecole Hardman

Stats: 19 of 19 games, 26 reception 538 yards, six touchdown, 20.7 yards per reception.

Mecole Hardman had a lot of question marks coming into the season. Could he run routes at the NFL level? Would his speed translate to the NFL level? Would he ever stop fumbling on special teams? He answered yes to a lot of those questions this season.

Even though he consistently was on the field for fewer snaps than Demarcus Robinson he would still find a way to make an impact on the field even with his minimal snap count. Not many veterans are able to put up over 20 yards a catch, but Hardman was able to achieve that and have his fingerprints all over some big games. Games like the Patriots game, the Ravens game and the Titans game.

His speed is rivaled by only Tyreek Hill, and Andy Reid has had an easy time putting him in situations where he can be successful. He’s only going to get better each season, so there’s really no telling what his ceiling actually is.

But it’s safe to say that it’s pretty high.

Status for next year: Keep him

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Demarcus Robinson

Stats: 19 of 19 games, 32 receptions 449 yards, four touchdowns, 14 yards per reception.

One could say that Demarcus Robinson “burst” onto the scene after Tyreek Hill was injured in Week One. He had the huge game against the Oakland Raiders and then showed up with a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens. After that it was a lot of, “where ya at Demarcus?”

Robinson has been with the Chiefs his entire four-year career, so the Chiefs are all he knows. Unfortunately, there are other teams that could legitimately use his services. He’s a great blocker and a capable number two receiver, just so long as he’s on a team that has an undisputed number one guy. That alone could price him out Kansas City. Dave Toub likes him as a gunner on special teams, and Reid found uses for him when the Chiefs were down guys, but with the draft deep at receiver his status is legitimately up in the air.

Status for next year: Offer 2-years $7.5 million

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Sammy Watkins

Stats: 16 of 19 games, 52 receptions 673 yards, three touchdowns, 12.9 yards per reception

The curious case of the man who calls himself the Lizard King. Sammy Watkins can be an elite-tier wide receiver in the NFL. There are about 24 other teams in the NFL where if he were on their roster he’d instantly be their number one guy. Unfortunately, he plays for the Chiefs, so he’s essentially relegated to what seems like the fourth option because of how frequently backs are used in this offense’s passing game.

When the playoffs rolled around Watkins balled out, just like last postseason. If you watch his tape his talent is absolutely unquestionable (I’m looking at you, Carrington Harrison) and he should be treated like a receiver with an elite skillset. He’s under contract next season, but his cap hit will be $21 million and if the Chiefs cut him it’d save them $14 million in an offseason where they’re strapped on the cap.

Status for next year: Keep him with restructured deal; if not, trade him

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Tyreek Hill

Stats: 15 of 19 games, 58 reception 860 yards, seven touchdowns, 14.8 yards per reception

Tyreek Hill is a bona-fide elite tier NFL wide receiver, and anyone that tries to argue against that is just flat-out wrong. Hill was a dislocated collarbone from another 1,000 yard season and almost ended with 1,000 yards even though he only played 12 regular season games. So long as he has a clean off-season he’s going to be around a long time.

Status for next year: Keep him

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MasterBlaster7
MasterBlaster7

This is how I would like things to go. Get a 4th or 5th for Sammy. Let someone other than the Chiefs pay DRob. Keep Hill. Keep Hardman. Keep Pringle. Keep Kemp. Pick up KJ Hill in the 3rd.

StramtoReid
StramtoReid

Every one says the offense is better with Sammy, so I’m not sure if the Chiefs try to keep him. I know DRob is gone, I do wish him good luck with his future.

The question for me is, does the Chiefs keep CJ or Watkins or neither. I believe the Chiefs should decide what their going to do with Sammy, first. I believe the Chiefs continue their trend to build the receiver core through the draft.. They might be able to pick up a receiver on a prove it deal.

The thing that worries me is, what happens to the offense if we cut Watkins and Hill gets hurt? I do believe CJ is more important than Watkins, I don’t know if we can afford CJ for 5 more years.

MasterBlaster7
MasterBlaster7

Sammy is the anti-Dwayne Bowe. Dwayne Bowe can’t be bothered until he lights it up in garbage time. Sammy can’t be bothered until he lights it up in the playoffs and Super Bowl.

TNCHIEFS

Yep, DRob has had some spectacular moments, but his production/efficiency was kinda underwhelming.

MasterBlaster7
MasterBlaster7

my last word on DRob is…..what keeps Mahomie happy.

Berserker

Marcus Kemp was having a legit, legit break-out camp before he got injured. You could see that he was going to make the team and that he was going to be a significant part of the offense, not just by his performance, but also by the way that the other players and the coaches were treating him.

Surprised me, honestly. Because he looked flat-out bad in past camps. He had taken a quantum leap. I hope he can come back and be a contributor for us.

EAFOX

Without a major signing or draft pick, Kemp might have the inside track for the third receiver.

Berserker

That would be great. As far as he’d come, it was legitimately sad when he got hurt.

BleedingRedAndGold

Considering he was a UDFA it may have just taken a couple years for things to go “click” for him, and that’s not something all that unusual for draftees, either. There’s a lot said about there being a point “where the game slows down” for many if not most players. Still ACL+MCL is scary and I hope his rehab’s going well.

EAFOX

Concern – Without Hill on the field, our receivers’ production drops off tremendously. Concern – Hardman balled as the third receiver. Can he be a number two and win consistently? Concern – If Hill and Hardman are the starters and Sammy and DRob are gone, who becomes the undisputed number three receiver? Kelce could help out more as a receiver if we had a legitimate second tight end. How expensive is a free agent tight end compared to a free agent receiver with the assumption that they have comparable talent.

EAFOX

I should add that without a legitimate running game for most of the year really hampered the receiver output as teams could force us into pass mode.

vvet818

I’m torn (pun intended) on Sammy the Hammy, homer in me says keep him but the accountant in me says pay cut or move on.
Keep Pringle
D Rob 50/50 stay/go, i’ll leave it to the brains to keep or not.
Keep Hardman
Hill….Jesus, do I even have to say anything?

BleedingRedAndGold

Getting hard for me to see Watkins staying, since he could prolly land his contract’s value for next season with another team. If he does stick around I’d imagine it would be because he wants to win a second ring. But the bottom line is that I can’t see them paying Sammy that much cap next season.

Berserker

If we get a trade offer for a 4th rounder or better for him, I’d make that a done deal.

He’s an excellent player, but I think this offense with this QB and this HC can replace his production. And $14 million cap space is somethin.

BleedingRedAndGold

True, and it is also 2/3rd the way to paying Jones $21MM per, to look at it in a different way.

TNCHIEFS

I think Watkins would make more concessions to stay in KC than many realize. He’s impacted by his environment more than a lot of folks. He feels safe, supported and secure with Andy Reid and the Chiefs culture. If you listened to him around the SB you could tell whole life balance is important to him and for him. He strikes me as a deeply feeling/intuitive person. When he’s in his power alley emotionally he’s unstoppable. But he is vulnerable if he doesn’t take care of himself. That’s my psychoanalysis, and I’m sticking to it. Actually, he reminds me in some ways of me.

CHIEFSandSABRES

It’ll be really interesting to see if they draft a bigger WR if Sammy bounces. I know zero about college prospects, but I’m sure there is a big WR type out there they might be able to draft.

BleedingRedAndGold

Dieter’s 6′ 3′ and 205, is that considered big? I mean, I’m not advocating for the guy, but I gotta figure they’re keeping him around for a reason other than him being Patrick’s friend, so somebody must see something in him worth having around.

Berserker

Dieter is also a very good all-around athlete, so he’s a valuable special teamer while he (hopefully) develops his WR skills. Basically a year-later Robinson. Guys like that will usually find a roster spot.

BleedingRedAndGold

So basically the heir apparent of D-Rob until proven otherwise?

Berserker

Might as well be. I think he’s pretty good in that role. I think the only reason he catches grief on fan boards, or at least more grief than any other backup WR might, is the narrative about him and Mahomes being homies.

Berserker

Laviska Shenault out of CO is this year’s Sammy comparison in the draft, but we’d almost certainly have to use our first pick on him.

HawaiiFiveOh
HawaiiFiveOh

Don’t sign DRob. He was responsible for so many crucial 3rd down drops this year. Maybe that’s my bias showing there, but catching the football seems kind of important for a guy whose position is receiver. I think we can replicate his production with someone else.
Sammy needs a paycut. If he only shows up 4 games a year, he should take WAY less than what he is making. I think he knows that. It’s either be cut and go find work in the wastelands outside the kingdom, or restructure and contend for another ring.

MasterChief
MasterChief

The guy I think will progress the most next year is Mecole Hardman. Hill grew A LOT after his rookie year and I think Hardman will too. I’m Super excited to see what he can do.

BleedingRedAndGold

Hill slammed the hell out of his footwork after his first* season, so I would hope Hardman follows his lead. The next season that work paid off, and the ability to change speed and direction he’d honed has since acted as a speed multiplier in the game.

*At least I think it was after the ’16 season that he was putting out those ladder drill videos and such.

Berserker

Yeah, Hardman seems like a pretty smart and level-headed guy, so I’m hoping for some significant progression. He’s already improved quite a bit from his college performance, imo.

BleedingRedAndGold

Yeah, that was the early knock on him, how rough around the edges he was, but he’s come along nicely in limited exposure. Getting to be a pretty good returner, too.