On the Radar: Wide Receivers

If many fans around the Chiefs Nation get their way, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell will call out the name of one the top two wide receivers in next weeks draft.

With only two surefire first round wide receivers in this year's 2011 draft class, many of the Chiefs faithful are hoping that Kansas City lands one of the premiere receiver talents available in round one.

However to fulfill that dream, the Chiefs must land either Alabama's Julio Jones or Georgia's A.J. Green. Now that would make for an A+ first day of the 2011 NFL draft. But sitting with the 21st pick, the Chiefs are sure to be merely spectators in the race for either of these blue chippers.

I haven't seen a single mock draft that has either Jones or Green falling past the Rams at #14. In fact, neither is expected to escape the top ten. If the Chiefs want one of these sure handed receivers, its likely that General Manager Scott Pioli will have to trade up to get either. But that's something the Chiefs top man has yet to do in Kansas City.

If Pioli is targeting one of the top wide receivers with the teams first pick, missing out on Jones or Green doesn't mean their aspirations for landing a good pair of hands will be crushed. If the Chiefs want to ease the load of their top pick from 2007, Dwayne Bowe, I recommend Pioli take a page from Axl Rose and use a little patience.

Though this draft has enough depth to excite the Chiefs, what this year's draft class lacks is more than a pair of marquee wide receivers at the top of the draft. It might make more sense for the Chiefs to land a target opposite Bowe in the later rounds.

If that's the case, then Miami University's Leonard Hankerson could be a steal on Friday when the Chiefs are on the clock for the first time. The Hurricane standout set a single season record with 13 touchdowns, breaking the previous mark set by NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irving. However, the knock on Hankerson has always been his lack of focus. Far too often, he varies from his routes to easily and doesn't put himself between the quarterback and the ball.

Could it be Hanker Time in KC?
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If the Chiefs are going to expand their down field passing game, they need a deep threat receiver. Though Bowe had an All-Pro season, he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. And the Chiefs have to plan for his departure should they not attempt to resign him. Either way Bowe has never been considered a blazer.

If the Chiefs draft Hankerson, there will be comparison to Bowe because of his lack of down the field speed. Still though for a late second round pick he could make an impact in 2011.

If the Chiefs stay on the east coast to take a receive, then Maryland standout Torrey Smith could be an option. Smith has all the intangibles that Pioli looks for in a draft pick. He's a team leader on and off the field.

With blazing speed in tact, Smith caught 12 touchdowns giving the Terrapins a deep threat that has shot Smith up the draft charts. In addition, should the Chiefs choose to remove the return tag on Dexter McCluster or Javier Arenas, Mr. Smith was one of the nations best return men in 2010.

After the second round outside of Smith and Hankerson, the water gets a bit murkier for Pioli and company.

That could lead them in the third round to snare University of Pittsburgh receiver, Jon Baldwin. However with his size just shy of 6'5" and his slow forty time a shade under five seconds, he's more of a possession guy than someone who can stretch opposing defenses. But that doesn't mean he's not needed in Kansas City. If the aforementioned McCluster can emerge as a true deep threat, Baldwin could become a slot option or line up as a second tight along with Tony Moaeki.

But for me the guy I'd like to see them land in round three is Boise State string bean, Titus Young.

Despite accumulating over 3000 yards in his four-year career on the blue turf of death, Young had a variety off the field issues that has pushed his stock to a mid to late third rounder. And when you consider his smallish frame (5'11", 174lbs) and reputation for being at times immature, Young seems like too much of a risk for rounds 1-2. But if Young or Baldwin is available in round three, they would easily be worth the risk.

As the Chiefs move to Saturday, they could still fill a receiver void in the late rounds. It's here where Pioli found last years Diamond on defense, Safety Kendrick Lewis. If he can duplicate in the fifth round by grabbing an unheralded but talented receiver, he could enhance the depth at the position.

So who might Pioli find at this point in the draft?

If his scouts went to the state of Texas, they probably uncovered the talents of Abilene Christians, Edmund Gates. And even though he's a Division II player, that hasn't stopped the Chiefs from drafting players at the second level. Some NFL scouts think Gates was little more than a lump of coal. But after getting a closer look at his freakish speed, scouts warmed to his raw abilities. Thus what might have been a guy that the Chiefs would go after as undrafted free agent, could find himself a nice spot on the Chiefs future roster by grabbing him in the 5th or 6th rounds.

Will Greg Little follow in the footsteps of former Tar Heel and first round pick of the NY Giants, Hakeem Nicks?
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Another receiver who has seen his draft stock plummet in recent months is North Carolina Tar Heel, Greg Little. But at this point in the draft, Little has an exceptional physique and when you pair that with elite body control you get a strong player that gives one team is lucky enough to grab him a very versatile weapon. Considering Pioli and Haley's affection for multifaceted players, Little could be a target in the later rounds.

If you're looking for a dark horse, the Chiefs could snag Fort Valley State Wide Receiver Ricardo Lockett. Like Gates, Locket is also a standout Division II player. And in some NFL circles, he's a poor mans' Julio Jones.

Lockett is a former track star and lit it up at the combine in February but then again he's another track guy trying to play football. Though he's playing football since Peewee league, combine sensations usually fizzle out in the NFL. But when you factor that this kid has a chip on his should the size of Mount Rushmore, he has a strong believe in his abilities that someday could make him an elite NFL receiver.

In summary, I can't see the Chiefs grabbing a receiver in the first round but at some point in rounds two through seven, they certainly will take at least one of them before the drafts final curtain call.

Should the Chiefs go receiver in Round One?

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