Without the emergence of rookie Dwayne Bowe last year, the Chiefs wide receiving corp would have been in shambles. Bowe ended '07 with 995 yards receiving, which was nearly 60% of the total yards gained by all of the Chiefs' wide receivers. Jeff Webb, Samie Parker and veteran Eddie Kennison were nearly non-existent in 2007, with their 65 catches combined not even surpassing Bowe's own 70 catches. Parker and Kennison are no longer on the team, which means that the Chiefs most experienced WR on the roster is Devard Darling who is entering his fifth season. However, Darling has only started one game in his career so take his "experience" with a grain of salt. After that, the most experienced Chiefs receiver is Jeff Webb, who is entering his third season.
In other words, the Chiefs needed some help at the wide out position.
That help began with the signing of former Baltimore Raven Devard Darling this off season, who saw little action in Baltimore during his four years there. He came to Kansas City looking for an opportunity to start. Darling appears to be a quick, hard-working receiver who will battle for the #2 spot behind Dwayne Bowe. His signing isn't major by any means. He's an unproven wide out to throw into the mix with the others.
More than likely, Jeff Webb will be called on to be the #2 receiver but the job won't come without major competition. Webb's talent appears to be on roughly the same level as former Arena League player Bobby Sippio, who spent a mix of time on the active roster and practice squad last season. Neither have shown much of a spark, even when judged by #2 spot standards. Sippio didn't even catch a pass last year.
That brings us to the two receivers the Chiefs drafted this past weekend, Missouri's Will Franklin and Utah State's Kevin Robinson. Franklin should be familiar to most here - a burner who makes the occasional drop. He'll likely battle Jeff Webb for the #2 spot and there is no foreseeable winner in that fight. Franklin was a fourth round pick, which makes him a bit more touted than Jeff Webb, who was a 6th round pick back in 2006. Kevin Robinson initially appears to have been drafted for his fantastic return ability, something the Chiefs sorely need, even with the signing of another former Raven B.J. Sams this off-season.
The Chiefs receiving corp has only eighteen combined NFL starts. That receiving game is bolstered by the greatness of TE Tony Gonzalez but there is a dramatic drop off in "seen" talent after that. We have a clear cut #1 WR in Dwayne Bowe, with all four of our other receivers theoretically fighting for the #2 spot.
What happens when defenses key on Bowe and Tony Gonzalez? Who steps up? Will the Chiefs' receiving corp be another major problem for the development of QB Brodie Croyle? Does he have the help he needs to succeed?
Croyle better be living with his receivers and his offensive line this summer. He's going to need that chemistry.