The Chiefs have no shortage of intriguing prospects among 13 wide receivers at training camp, but the same can’t be said for roster spots at that position.
“With the way our practices are set up, you need 13 guys just to get through practice,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “We’ve increased the volume of plays, so more guys are going to have an opportunity to play.”
But for how long?
Conventional wisdom says that veterans Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins, who has been rock solid so far in camp, including several highlight-reel catches deep downfield, are near certainties to make the final roster.
That leaves, at most, two available roster spots (and more than likely only one) for wide receivers depending on what the Chiefs do at quarterback and running back.
Returning from a torn ACL, Kyle Williams has been impressive. He also has the most experience (39 games) among the remaining nine receivers in camp, though he’s never played more than 13 games in four NFL seasons.
Meanwhile, Frankie Hammond Jr., who spent last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad, has been a revelation early in training camp. His 30-yard post and 30-yard cutback run after the catch Sunday remains the singular training camp highlight so far.
There’s also speedy Albert Wilson, who has shown jitterbug ability with the ball and also has value on special teams, but it’s hardly an exhaustive list.
Mark Harrison, the biggest and tallest target in camp, has shown a knack for making plays downfield and former Missouri receiver Jerrell Jackson has shined brightly in recent practices.
Meanwhile, Fred Williams has shown good hands and Darryl Surgent has made spectacular over-the-shoulder catches more than 40 yards downfield along the boundary in back-to-back practices.
Weston Dressler also remains an intriguing prospect, but he’s dropped several passes and struggled to create separation from the slot.
The preseason games will go a long way in fleshing out what’s shaping up to be a fantastic battle for Dressler and the rest of the receivers, including rookie Deon Anthony from Troy University.
“Everybody plays in the preseason game,” Pederson said. “You may only get one play in a preseason game. You may get one play in practice. But as long as you know what you’re doing, especially as a young player, then your reps will increase the same way as if you kind of struggle mentally, your reps are going to decrease.”
Pederson said these early practices are perfect for assessing mental toughness among players, ensuring that the cream rises to the top while others slowly wilt.
Eventually, even with such a deep position group, the players tend to weed themselves out.
“Some of the young guys, it happens that way,” Pederson said. “Others may make it because of special teams. The ones that can understand and stay up with the information have a better chance of playing or seeing he field.”