Ahead of 2022, we’re previewing the Chiefs roster. In this iteration, we’re previewing the tight ends and wide receivers. Who becomes the top wide receiver?
Training camp is well underway, and the Chiefs offense is starting to take shape. There have been countless moving pieces this offseason, but it seems as though everything is falling into place. There’s no doubt that the offense will look different this season, but that doesn’t mean it will be worse. In fact, I believe by the end of the season the offense may even be better than last year. We’ve already talked about the offensive line, so now let’s jump into the state of the WR/TE room for 2022.
A Couple Of Returning Chiefs Still Anchor The Offense In 2022
Firstly, let’s talk about the few things that haven’t changed with the offense. That starts with Travis Kelce. Despite entering his 10th season Kelce seems as chipper as ever. Kelce will have to slow down at some point, but I don’t see it happening this year. With the changes in the offense, we may even see an uptick in Kelce’s production this season as Mahomes looks to his most reliable target more often. I for one hope Kelce finishes out his days playing football in Kansas City. He echoed similar sentiments on Monday:
Next up is Mecole Hardman, who is looking to expand his role in the offense. It’s hard to say that Mecole Hardman has been disappointing, or a bust. However, he hasn’t fully lived up to expectations. This year he will have his chance with Tyreek Hill gone. In a contract year, Mecole Hardman will be doing whatever he can to earn the top dollar that fellow receivers from his class got. There hasn’t been much buzz surrounding Mecole this offseason, but an impressive clip did emerge from camp:
Of course, Hardman was matched up against a 4th round rookie, but it does seem as though his route running has improved. Hardman will have to compete to become the Chiefs’ top receiver this season, but I wouldn’t put it entirely out of the question.
Which New Additions To The Chiefs Offense Might Breakout?
The Chiefs signed Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason. They drafted Skyy Moore as well. All three have been having a great training camp. It will be hard for all three of them to have breakout seasons, but you can never have too many weapons. Not to mention, iron sharpens iron. The more they compete with each other the better they will make each other. So, who is the most likely to emerge of the three?
Let’s start with the rookie Skyy Moore. Moore has had an impressive camp, and it seems like every other day there is a new clip of Skyy making a diving reception. That being said, he is more likely to find himself in a gadget role this season, similar to what Mecole Hardman was been in previous years. He may get more playtime as the season goes on, but the Chiefs should feel no need to rush the development of their second-round rookie. Let him learn for a year, and put him in a position to succeed. Only the Chiefs will know if he’s truly ready, but if he is then as they say “The Skyy is the limit.”
Juju Smith-Schuster was a player the Chiefs had an interest in over the last offseason, but were unable to land until this offseason. Juju only signed a one-year deal, and similar to Hardman will be looking to prove himself and earn a premier contract. From what we’ve seen from camp so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if he earns that contract next offseason. Juju looks absolutely jacked this offseason. It seems as though he and Mahomes have already built up some chemistry as well. Juju will likely be playing from the slot this season, and he may even compete with Kelce for targets.
The biggest issue with Smith-Schuster the past 2 seasons has been health. It all comes down to if he can stay healthy. He’s set up to have the best season of his career alongside former-MVP Patrick Mahomes. That being said, there is still one other player in the Chiefs’ receiving room who may outshine him.
From all accounts, it seems as though Marquez Valdes-Scantling is having the best camp of not just receivers, but of any offensive player. “MVS” was mostly known as a deep threat on the Packers, but he seems to have developed his game more than some may have thought. He is also infamous for having poor hands, but that is something that also seems to have been worked out.
So far in the offseason, Scantling has had smooth route-running and great hands. Not to mention the speed to outrun just about any defender. Similar to his counterpart in Smith-Schuster, Valdes-Scantling and Mahomes seem to already be on the same wavelength. If he continues to play as he has in camp, then paired with Mahomes he could jump into debates as one of the best receivers in the NFL this season. Once again, it’s only camp, but the future looks bright.
Under The Radar Chiefs That Could Become Key Players In 2022
There are still some other players who may not be as featured in the Chiefs offense but could be sneaky good for the team. So, while they may be overlooked by some, let’s shine a light on a couple of these players today, starting with Jody Fortson.
Fortson was hoping for a great season in 2021 until he tore his Achilles early in the season. It’s hard to emerge from the TE room when Kelce is on your team, but Fortson had found a role with the team last year. Outside Kelce he was really the only big-bodied red-zone threat the Chiefs had, and you could tell a difference after the injury. Fortson will look to pick up where he left off last year and has been having another great training camp. Unfortunately, he suffered another injury during camp, but it appears as though it was nothing serious.
Another name to look out for is Justin Watson. We have heard all offseason that Watson has been impressing not just the coaching staff, but Mahomes himself. It’s possible that Watson doesn’t even make the team, but if he continues to have a great offseason the Chiefs may have no choice but to keep him on the main roster, similar to Daurice Fountain last year. It’s unlikely Watson will ever be one of the top options on the team, but he could come up with a major catch when you least expect it.
Overall, the Chiefs’ receiving room on paper appears to be better than last season despite losing Tyreek Hill. However, that is only on paper for now. The team will have to prove in the regular season that they have made steps forward, and not made a massive mistake in the prime of Patrick Mahomes career.
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