Whether due to Alex Smith’s ostensible conservatism, Andy Reid’s fondness for tight ends or lackluster play at the position, Kansas City Chiefs fans should be reminded that there was a 21-game streak from December 2013 through the first three games of the 2015 season without a touchdown by a wideout. To bolster the perimeter, the Chiefs signed former Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin during the 2015 free agency period. Maclin fared well last year, catching 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns, and he is clearly the top guy heading into the upcoming season. However, the Chiefs wide receiver battle behind Maclin is heating up.
Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver Battle
With 1,963 of the Chiefs’ 3,493 total passing yards in 2015 coming from Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce, the team has invested significant time this offseason in developing some young talent and bringing in a few seasoned veterans to compete at wide receiver. Of course, the Chiefs would like to see Albert Wilson or Chris Conley fill the void at the number two receiving position. Both are just 23 years old and are on the upside.
In addition, Wilson and Conley stayed in Kansas City to train with Maclin during part of the offseason, so there is reason to believe they will improve. Conley should make big strides, and rightfully so given he was a third round draft selection and is in his second year. Outside of Kelce, the Chiefs also have a shortage of talented big body targets. At 6’3″, Conley would fit the bill if he can take the next step.
But don’t count out Wilson, who was signed as an un-drafted free agent out of Georgia State in 2014 and has therefore been in the system a year longer. Though it may be a small difference, he was more productive in his first year than Conley. Wilson had 260 yards receiving, compared to Conley’s 199 this past season. In 2015, Wilson had 35 catches for 451 yards and two touchdowns, making him the Chiefs’ third-leading receiver. With it also being a contract year for him, it wouldn’t be surprising if Wilson played a huge role in the passing game in 2016.
The Chiefs also selected former Florida Gator Demarcus Robinson and West Alabama product Tyreek Hill in this year’s draft, but their issues off the field raise concern. Robinson was suspended four times in college, and Hill was accused of assaulting his 20-year-old girlfriend, which led to his dismissal from the Oklahoma State football team. Both are talented, but it remains to be seen whether they possess the level of maturity necessary to contribute right away.
It is more likely that either Mike Williams or Rod Streater rekindle the production they enjoyed earlier in their respective careers. Both were signed to a one-year deal this past spring and bring experience to a receiving group that has an average age of 25. Williams is particularly intriguing, as he had 2,731 receiving yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2010 to 2012 before battling a hamstring injury in 2013 and eventually being traded to the Buffalo Bills. Matching these numbers would likely be enough for him to earn the job behind Maclin.