Robinson Clearly Has the Most Talent and Baggage

With the release of Johnnie Morton last week, the Kansas City Chiefs appear to have no plans to stand pat with their 2005 wide receiving unit. After drafting Craphonso Thorpe in April, they are talking to a trio of receivers and Warpaint Illustrated has the latest on Freddie Mitchell, Az-Zahir Hakim and Koren Robinson.



With the Chiefs exorcising their option to release veteran wide receiver Johnnie Morton last Thursday, Kansas City was quick to line up a trio of possible visits with some successors who could add depth to the Chiefs roster.

Former St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim is currently talking to the Chiefs. For Hakim, he could be reunited with the coach that drafted him out of San Diego State back in 1998. Dick Vermeil knows Hakim very well. In fact the Chiefs considered signing him before they eventually set their sites on Johnnie Morton back in 2002. Neither player paid off dividends for their respective teams. Hakim was injured in Detroit and Morton never met the Chiefs expectations.

Hakim has struggled to stay on the field since he signed a free agent contract with the Lions. In three seasons, he missed 10 games due to injuries and only started 27 of 48 games for them. Last season for the Lions he caught 31 passes and averaged 17.2 yards per catch. In addition, nine of those completions were for more than 20 yards. That's the type of play-making ability the Chiefs offense demands. But can he do it for 16 games?

The downside for the Chiefs and Hakim is that they already have a similar receiver in Dante Hall. Now the Chiefs want Hall to play less offense this season so the flirtation with Hakim is very real but is it wise; still when healthy, Hakim can be a dangerous target for any offense.

Veteran Freddie Mitchell will be in town this week to meet with Chiefs officials. President/GM Carl Peterson wants to bring him in for a look see and is curious as to what led to his release by Philadelphia. The former UCLA standout has struggled in each of his four NFL seasons in Philly. In his career with the Eagles, he's only caught five touchdown passes and caught 90 passes while gaining 1262 receiving yards.

Those are hardly starting numbers for the Chiefs offense but they are solid back-up numbers. The problem with Mitchell is his attitude. While he has untapped talent, he's never been able to match his smack-talk with making plays on the field. His legendary banter with New England Patriots Safety Rodney Harrison leading up to last years Super Bowl; made him look foolish and the organization was embarrassed to say the least.

He was schooled by Harrison and the rest of the Patriots defense and after that lack-of-performance, the Eagles felt that his future in Philly had reached an end. Even further with a possible holdout of star receiver Terrell Owen likely, the Eagles felt Mitchell could not be counted on to be a productive receiver in their offense. That's not a ringing endorsement for Mitchell. Now he is getting interest from other NFL teams most notably the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders. There is little doubt that someone will take a flyer on him. Will it be the Chiefs? They do have a tendency to look at former Eagles players and the fact that he has UCLA ties might help him with Peterson and Vermeil.

But the most intriguing player on the open market is former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Koren Robinson. The former North Carolina State standout was the 9th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. He's steadily improved in each of his three initial NFL seasons but fell on hard times a year ago. He was suspended four games for an off-the-field incident that was related to substance abuse. Then he was arrested last month for driving a car when he had been declared legally drunk by local police. He's claimed his innocence after the arrest but its' very obvious that this young man needs help.

Clearly Robinson received little help from the Seahawks organization and Head Coach Mike Holmgren. He and the organization quite likely turned their heads and hoped they could keep him focused on playing the game on Sunday. They cared very little about getting him to and from the practice field and game days; ready to play football. Obviously the Seattle organization does not have the infrastructure internally to handle a player with the problems that are haunting Robinson.

Fortunately the Chiefs are blessed with people inside the organization that can get Robinson back on track both personally and professionally. Lamont Winston, who works in the Chiefs front-office, has helped young and troubled players adjust to life in the NFL. Winston has that experience and expertise to help him become a better person before he becomes a better football player.

The Chiefs and Winston did wonders getting cornerback Eric Warfield straightened out but it was not easy. Warfield just completed a house arrest and is now looking forward to playing games on Sunday without the fuel of alcohol running through his veins. Warfield could be a strong candidate to take Robinson under his wing. Warfield has been maligned by fans for his play on the field but he's a standup person who clearly has learned his lesson and is on the road to recovery.

On the football field nobody develops wide receivers better than offensive coordinator Al Saunders. He along with receivers coach Charlie Joiner are about as gifted a coaching tandem as there is in the NFL in regards to preparing, motivating and mentoring wide receivers. With that trio, the Chiefs could find be the perfect fit for Robinson.

But there is risk and Robinson carries with him a lot of downside. If he's indeed convicted, the former Seahawk could sit out anywhere from four to eight games this season. In fact, it could be even longer since this is not his first time offense in this matter. So the Chiefs will have to do their due diligence with him. But there is little doubt he has amazing talent and kudos to the Chiefs for even putting him under consideration as a late roster addition despite his personal baggage. Still the Chiefs are not the only NFL team interested in Robinson as the San Francisco 49ers would like to bring him in for a visit. But clearly the better of the two organizations is in Kansas City and like I said Robinson has to take the first step by agreeing to seek counseling for his problems off the field.

Of the three NFL prospects that have caught the Chiefs eye, Robinson is the clear front-runner based on talent and talent alone. Mitchell has to become more NFL savvy and Hakim has to remain healthy. Though each has issues on and off the field, the determining factor could be based on which wide receiver can contribute in 2005.

The good news if you're a Chiefs fan is the fact the organization is still willing to tinker with the roster. Will they add another veteran wide receiver? It appears based on their flirtation with Robinson, Mitchell and Hakim that they intend to do just.

For more news on Koren Robinson's legal troubles check out this article at Seahawks.net. Where Will Robinson Go?

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