The goal every offseason for teams around the National Football League is to become more talented and to add depth. When you look at the past two Chiefs offseasons - in 2011 they drafted pass catcher Jon Baldwin out of Pitt and signed free agent wide receiver Steve Breaston.
Then this past offseason the Chiefs drafted receivers, Junior Hemingway (Michigan), Devon Wylie (Fresno State) and added running back Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M) and signed free agent running back Peyton Hillis. What do most of these players have in common?
And they all might be above McCluster on the depth chart. That's not a good situation for a player who truly doesn't know where he fits.
Last season, McCluster accumulated almost 900-yards of offense (516 rushing and 328 receiving), scored a pair touchdowns but put the ball on the ground on four occasions. Some of those fumbles can be attributed to the fact after gaining just 71 yards on the ground his rookie season, his increased workload was born out of necessity.
When Jamaal Charles went down after week two, Thomas Jones ran out of gas and Jackie Battle was thought so much of by the Chiefs that they released him after the season, McCluster had to fill the void.
But that was then. This season, offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, has made it clear that McCluster won't carry the rock as a running back this season. He'll be a wide receiver and have to earn his stripes based on that singular duty on offense. Now the question becomes how much and how effectively can McCluster do that.
The Chiefs new offensive scheme is one that takes advantage of favorable matchups. You would think that McCluster would have an advantage in that department. But with the new personnel packages that set up those valuable mismatches with linebackers and safeties - they use players that are multi-dimensional and not situational like McCluster has been in the past.
For example, Peyton Hillis has great hands in an H-back hybrid role - either catching the ball out of the slot or going in motion to the wide side of the field. And if that's not enough responsibility, Hillis has the ability to block and seal the edge for Jamaal Charles. Which is why the Chiefs committed $3 million for his services this year.
Aside from the scheme differences there is the subject of who's actually better. If the Chiefs released a depth chart today, where would the third-year from Ole Miss sit?
I think we can all agree it would be behind Dwayne Bowe (when and if he get's into camp), Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin at wide receiver with a rookie like Wylie, veteran Terrance Cooper or Hemingway pushing for the fourth spot. So it's difficult to imagine where McCluster's touches will come from if everyone else stays healthy.
That makes McCluster is an offensive wildcard. He's like my golf game – bad for most of the day but that one shot or that one birdie gets me going again and ready to play another round.
The same can be said for an athlete without a true position – that even one electrifying touch gets you thinking again, dreaming again about his ability to make one dynamic play after another.
The problem is that those memorable plays are much like my golf game – too few to count.
Dave Barr is a 19-year sports radio veteran who has worked for ESPN, Sporting News Radio and in markets like Cincinnati, Little Rock and Tulsa. Currently Barr is the program director for 1450 The Score in Joplin, Missouri and hosts the A.M. Grind weekday mornings from 6-9am. Want more Dave follow him @Daveabarr on Twitter.
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