There have been a lot of moving pieces for the Chiefs in the 2022 offseason. There are some players still on the roster who will have higher expectations going into this season. Some of these players know exactly who they are, and there is little to no room for growth. However, there are other players who still have unrealized potential and this might just be the year for them to shine.
The Chiefs will likely be experimenting with different lineups early in the year. Some players will rise to the moment, and others will get lost in the shuffle. So, let’s take a look at some of the potential risers to look out for:
Over the last few years, the Chiefs have completely revamped their linebacking core. Willie Gay Jr. was the first of the new regimen when he was drafted two years ago, but found himself lost in the shuffle after being outshined last year by rookie Nick Bolton. This year, the Chiefs added another linebacker in the draft in Leo Chenal, and also signed Jermaine Carter from the Panthers.
Gay has shown flashes of his upside but hasn’t been able to put it together for a full season yet. Luckily for him, he is in the best position to make full use of his talents this year. Gay is at his best when he can drop back into coverage and read the eyes of the quarterback. Check out this play from last season:
Of course, not every Quarterback will stare down his receiver the entire play, but Gay has the best coverage instincts of any linebacker currently on the roster. Bolton and Chenal are both downhill players, but Chenal does have the potential to play in coverage eventually. Currently, though, the Chiefs will have to rely heavily on Gay on passing downs. The Chiefs have faith in Willie Gay this next season, so we should expect big things going forward.
As of this moment, if an injury were to happen to Travis Kelce, the Chiefs would arguably have the worst tight end group in the entire NFL. That being said the Chiefs coaching staff has been high on Noah Gray since he was drafted. Tight end is a tricky position, and very few rookies succeed at the position.
Gray doesn’t offer much of anything as a blocker, but he may not have to. Designated blocking tight ends are often easier to find than receiving threats. While the truly great ones can do both, Hall of Fame level tight ends don’t just grow on trees.
Noah Gray has had a year to learn the system, and will now have his second offseason program under his belt. There will be plenty of targets to go around, and even if Kelce manages to stay healthy he isn’t getting any younger. Gray has a great chance to learn from the best while honing his skills without any real pressure on himself. There are a lot of signs that signal a leap forward for Gray; if not this year then next.
Perhaps this isn’t the former Clemson wide receiver that some were expecting to see here. Cornell Powell was drafted by the Chiefs a year ago in the fifth round, but was cut by the team after the pre-season and stashed on the practice squad for almost the entire 2021 regular season. So why should we have high hopes for a player who couldn’t even make the roster just a year ago? Let’s take a look:
Powell has quick feet and very solid route-running ability. His best trait is his work ethic and willingness to improve every area of his game. Powell can contribute, not just as a receiver, but as a blocker. Powell has surely spent the past year improving in any way he can.
He isn’t the fastest receiver out there, and he has limitations in his game, but there is no limit to his work ethic. Perhaps missing the 53-man roster last year will have added even another chip to his shoulder. The Chiefs began using their practice squad protection on Powell near the end of the regular season. Which could mean one of two things: Either they were readying for the playoffs, and potential injuries or they began to see growth and were scared another team may snag him.
Powell will face an uphill battle making the 53-man roster this year once again, but I have high hopes for him. The Chiefs’ offense is notoriously complex to learn, so maybe this is the year Powell can prove he is worthy of a roster spot. One thing is certain, getting to catch passes from Patrick Mahomes makes everyone better.
Which Chiefs player do you expect to unexpectedly shine next season? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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