Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has plenty of areas on his football team that he would like to improve.
However, it’s somewhat revealing that when asked about his receiving corps — and why the unit wasn’t terribly productive this season — he didn’t mind going into detail about what went wrong.
“At the time, we thought we had some players that could help us,” Dorsey said. “But then as you go into the free agency process, you missed on a couple of guys. And then as the draft unfolded, there were certain guys that you had pegged in certain situations that may have peeled off a step or two before you, so then you still have got to go with the best player and we kind of stayed true to that.
“But as we move forward, we are always still trying to see if we can fit a piece in here or fit a piece in there. I think that the stats speak for themselves and we’re going to have to do some work there.”
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The last sentence is particularly revealing, especially if you hope the Chiefs, who became the first team since 1950 to go an entire season without having a single receiver score a touchdown, address this in the draft.
The good news, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says, is that even though last year’s draft produced a potentially historic crop of receivers — first rounders Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin look like potential stars — this year’s group isn’t bad, either.
In fact, McShay contends the Chiefs should have no shortage of options at receiver with the 18th overall pick of the first round, should they choose to go that route.
“It’s a really good group of receivers this year,” McShay said, generally, during a teleconference on Tuesday. “(You have) Amari Cooper from ’Bama, (DeVante) Parker from Louisville — who was injured early in the year and came on strong — (Michigan’s) Devin Funchess, a tight end/wide receiver hybrid, (Arizona State’s) Jaelen Strong, who is 6-3, 215 and had a really good year and continues to improve his ball skills … just a lot of good receivers.”
Then, McShay said, there’s the player he projected the Chiefs to select in his first mock draft a few weeks ago — West Virginia star wideout Kevin White, who is listed at 6 feet 3 and 210 pounds and caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“He had a monster year, and he’s somewhere in that late first-round range,” McShay said.
Receiver, however, isn’t the only position at the forefront for Chiefs fans seeking improvement in 2015. A leaky offensive line limited the Chiefs’ effectiveness at times this season, and only one starter — second-year left tackle Eric Fisher — seems to be guaranteed to return as a starter next season.
McShay said this draft lacks elite, blue-chip linemen, but there are a number of players who would be good mid-to-late first round picks, which happens to be exactly where the Chiefs are selecting.
“I actually say the sweet spot for offensive linemen in this draft is kind of the bottom half of the first round,” McShay said. “That’s where you’ll get a lot more value.”
Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff is McShay’s top offensive lineman, and he is a big (6-5, 315), nasty left tackle who is very good at run blocking but has iffy athleticism to hold up on the edge. McShay said he might make a better guard in the NFL, which happens to be exactly where the Chiefs need help.
McShay also likes Miami left tackle Ereck Flowers, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound early entrant to go in the late first or early second.
“(He’s) probably he most underrated tackle coming out,” McShay said. “He’s made huge improvements. … He’s a smooth mover, (has) good strength, his technique continues to get better.”
McShay also likes Pittsburgh right tackle T.J. Clemmings, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound road grader who has improved significantly over the last season. The Chiefs started veteran journeyman Ryan Harris at right tackle (a pending free agent) when projected starter Donald Stephenson was suspended four games for violating the league policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
“I’ve never seen a player improve from one season to the next as much as T.J. Clemmings did,” McShay said. “Based off the tape I watched of (quarterback Tom) Savage last year, I thought he was one of the worst offensive tackles I’d seen all year. I actually did some research on him because I was curious, and it turns out he was a defensive lineman that, because of injuries, moved to o-line and didn’t know what he was doing.
“But he went into the offseason, worked on his craft, improved and now has a chance to be a first-round pick. It’s really a remarkable turnaround.”