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New Chiefs WR Making Noise After Leaving Tampa Bay

Wide receiver hype has surrounded the Chiefs all offseason. First, it was Justyn Ross then it was Marquez Valdez-Scantling. Now another wide receiver is drawing interest. Who's the latest wide receiver drawing hype this offseason?

Wide receiver hype has surrounded the Chiefs all offseason. First, it was Justyn Ross then it was Marquez Valdez-Scantling. Now another wide receiver is drawing interest. Who’s the latest wide receiver drawing hype this offseason?

Numerous Chiefs wide receivers have made headlines this offseason. First, it was Justyn Ross, who fell through the entire draft and eventually signed with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent due to health concerns. Then, Marquez Valdez-Scantling made waves by showing a strong connection with Patrick Mahomes in the team’s mandatory OTAs.

Fans are anxious to see who takes advantage of the wide-open situation in the Chiefs’ offense. As a result, any rumors and hype coming out of OTAs or training camp is going to be extremely amplified this offseason. Mecole Hardman is the only regular starter returning from last year’s receiving corps and as a result, anyone could realistically make a play for the vacated targets. Between Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and Darrel Williams there are 317 vacated targets entering 2022.

The latest wide receiver drawing hype this offseason is former Buccaneer Justin Watson. So who is he and what role does he hope to fill next season?

How New Chiefs WR Arrived And What Attention He’s Drawing

Chiefs Mahomes at OTAs
(Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Justin Watson is 26 years old and entering his fifth season in the NFL in 2022. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Thus far in his career, he’s made just four starts. He has 23 receptions on 40 targets in his career for 258 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

The 2021 season ended up a lost one for Watson, who underwent knee surgery in July 2021. As a result, he didn’t play for the team until he was activated prior to Week 16. This offseason, Watson signed a one-year, $1.035 million contract to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Following the signing, most viewed Watson as a potential practice squad option with a fringe chance to make the team in a special team role. Now, this week, the narrative has changed around Watson.

In a tweet by Robert Griffin III this week, he mentioned that the Chiefs are “deeper at wide receiver than ever.” Griffin mentioned six wide receivers but notably left out Watson on his list. Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager (@pschrags on Twitter) replied with “Watson, 84. He’s the one to watch.” He then doubled down on his tweet when he discussed the Chiefs wide receiver group on Good Morning Football and mentioned Watson as the wide receiver he expects to surprise.

Cleary, Schrager sees something in Watson that we hadn’t considered previously. Schrager isn’t the first in the media to notice Watson this offseason, however. In late May, Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride tweeted about Watson. In Chiefs OTAs, Watson made the “play of the day” in 1-on-1s and caught a corner pass in the back corner of the endzone.

Clearly, Watson is making a name for himself not just in the Chiefs media circles but in the national media as well. He’s making a strong case to get an extended look in the preseason and could have an advantage over some other fringe names such as Corey Coleman and Justyn Watson. If he successfully makes the team, what might his role be?

Justin Watson Could Fill A Key Red Zone Role For Chiefs In 2022

(Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff, Getty Images)

The most underrated aspect of Tyreek Hill’s role in the Chiefs’ offense was his red-zone dominance. Hill led the team last season with 23 red-zone targets. Those targets led to a team-high seven receiving touchdowns. New additions Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster could help fill that role. Last we saw Smith-Schuster play a full season in 2020, he led the Steelers with 19 red-zone targets. However, in Kansas City, he will be learning a new and complex offense and will have his hands plenty full hoping to take on WR1 duties.

As a result, we could see multiple wideouts become a factor in the red zone next season. Although Watson only has two career touchdowns, his big-time play at OTAs was a corner route in the end zone. Additionally, both of Watson’s touchdowns in his career thus far have been in the red zone. In the play below, Jameis Winston is scrambling to his right inside the ten and finds Watson for six on a play eerily similar to what we’ve seen Mahomes do with Hill.

There’s an extremely small chance that Justin Watson becomes a number one target in the NFL. If he makes the roster at all, he will still be behind Smith-Schuster, Hardman, Valdez-Scantling, and Skyy Moore on the depth chart. Watson is competing with Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, Justyn Ross, Cornell Powell, and Daurice Fountain for the fifth and sixth wide receiver spots on the roster.

If he makes his case and makes the team, he could be an impact option in the red zone as well as a special teamer with NFL snaps already under his belt. That experience in the NFL could give him a leg up on fringe options like Powell and Ross who are still trying to make names for themselves. No matter how it plays out, it’s certainly worth watching Watson the rest of this offseason and throughout the preseason once it kicks off in August.

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