1. WR Dwayne Bowe - Here we go again and it’s worth mentioning one more time. There is no denying he’s had a killer camp to date. He looks leaner, has that gleam in his eye and from my view, intends to reclaim his status among the NFL’s elite wide receivers. He’s saying all the right things and appears to be someone who may have learned some hard lessons over the winter.
Bowe has always been a key ingredient to the Kansas City Chiefs offense. He can take over games every time he steps onto the field. But that’s not been his moniker thus far in his long Chiefs career. However he can change that with a strong camp, some pre-season success and a solid start to the regular season, Should that occur ‘The Show’ might make a return engagement in Kansas City.
2. G Zach Fulton - To say I’m concerned about the depth along the Chiefs offensive line, would be an understatement. What faces Head Coach, Andy Reid, in the coming weeks will be the decision to play his five best offensive linemen to open the regular season. That might happen regardless of the positions some of them played before camp began.
I’m not ready to put the Chiefs sixth round pick in that class just yet but he’s not exactly showing signs he’s all that phased in how to get things done at the NFL level. He has great size, uses his lower body leverage well and has enough upper body strength to fend off an interior pass rush. But he is a rookie and that should be something we all keep in mind as camp continues. Still he does remind me a lot of another late round draft pick that came out of nowhere his rookie season to start for the Chiefs, Dave Szott.
3. QB Tyler Bray - If the season started today, he’s the back-up quarterback behind veteran, Alex Smith. Bray has all the tools to be an NFL starter. He just lacks experience and honestly an opportunity to run with the first team.
He has the strongest arm in camp and for the most part can make all the throws. He’s pushing veteran back up, Chase Daniel, right off the roster. So much so Daniel is feeling the pressure every time he gets under center. So far, it’s Bray by a mile in the back-up battle.
4. RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas - On Saturday morning, he made one of the greatest catches I’ve seen in St. Joseph ever. He split a double team between the hash marks some thirty yards down the center of the field, blew right past both taller defenders while snagging the ball in stride and racing toward the end zone untouched.
Thomas has a burst of speed very reminiscent to former Chiefs receiver, Dexter McCluster. However, the difference in their respective game at this stage of their careers simply isn’t comparable. Thomas is miles ahead of McCluster as a rookie and that could create a big spark on offense this season.
5. S Eric Berry - He hasn’t had a very good camp to date. In watching him practice, I still get the sense he’s not running like he did before his knee surgery a couple of years ago. Berry has enough heat on him this season to perform at the highest level. After all, his team needs him to earn his Pro Bowl status.
If this defense is going to take the next step, Berry has to lead them in the secondary. He’s the only veteran in this unit that can take charge. For some reason, he appears to be having some trouble reading and reacting to what the offense is throwing at him in practice. I sure hope that changes over the next four weeks.
6. DT Dontari Poe - Next to Linebacker, Justin Houston, the Chiefs All Pro Nose Tackle, might be the most gifted defensive player on the roster. Poe has been exceptional in camp to date. He’s been quick, efficient and showing signs he intends to be even better in 2014 than he was last season.
We all knew he was a bit of a project two years ago but his maturation over that time frame has been remarkable considering he played three positions at Memphis. To that point, let’s be honest the Chiefs track record developing productive NFL defensive lineman hasn’t been very good. But Poe, has changed all that.
7. DE Mike Catapano - I said a year ago if the Chiefs didn’t move him from defensive end to outside linebacker, they had the makings of a potential impact player on their hands. Despite the fact he was an afterthought seventh round pick in 2013, he came to camp this Summer with his eyes set on a starters spot.
Catapano has been nothing short of special so far. He’s quick off his feet and proving he could become a solid edge pass rusher for this defense. Even better he’s already highly skilled as run stuffer. But is he a three down lineman? Not yet but in my view, he’s five times better at this stage of his career than Tyson Jackson was entering his second training camp with the Chiefs.
8. S Daniel Sorensen - BYU isn’t known as a hot bed for NFL prospects but the young Sorenson, has shown early indications he wants a roster spot in Kansas City. He has decent size, good speed and an instinct in moving toward the ball.
Now that sounds like something you’re supposed to do at the NFL level. However, it’s not always that easy. Case in point former Chiefs Safety, Kendrick Lewis. He had worlds of talent but could never do anything with it on the field. Sorenson, though less heralded and undrafted out of college, might just be a roster sleeper because he appears to be someone who can make plays for KC’s defense.
Photos: (1) Justin Olson Warpaint Illustrated (Dontari Poe) & (2) JDenny Medley USA Today Sports (Alex Smith/Tyler Bray)
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Which of these eight will have the most impact this season?
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