Dwayne Bowe is, without a doubt, the best wide receiver on the Kansas City Chiefs. He is also one of the best to ever play for the team. But for a player with such a description, Bowe also has taken on plenty of criticism.
Ever since the Chiefs selected Bowe in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft (No. 23 overall), the former LSU product has provided dividends from day one. Few rookie receivers make any real impact, and taking a receiver so early is always a roll of the dice. Yet Bowe barely missed the 1,000 yard mark his rookie season (995 yds.), and has gone on to become the most productive receiver in Chiefs history this side of Tony Gonzalez.
Here's where Bowe stands with regard to Chiefs receiving franchise records:
Career receptions: 472, 2nd all-time (1st: Gonzalez, 916)
Career yards: 6,401, 4th all-time (1st: Gonzalez, 10,940)
Career touchdowns: 44, 5th all-time (1st: Gonzalez, 76)
It's important to note a few things here (in both directions):
*The career leader in all of these categories is, obviously, a tight end. That puts Bowe in the conversation for greatest Chiefs wide receiver ever.
*Bowe has reached these totals in just seven seasons. The two players above him in career yards (Otis Taylor, Henry Marshall) played several more games than Bowe to date. Bowe has played 103. Taylor played 129, while Marshall played 165.
*On the flip side, Bowe has played during the pass-happy years of the NFL. To compare Bowe's stats right next to those of a different era is to believe the NFL has remained the same throughout the decades. That would be a false assumption.
In terms of his place in team history, Bowe has very few, if any, peers. Otis Taylor was a great receiver and generations of Chiefs fans will likely debate Bowe vs. Taylor for the team's best wide receiver of all time.
But where does Bowe stand among his colleagues? At one point, Bowe seemed poised to become the next elite wide receiver after leading the NFL in touchdowns with 15 in 2010. He put together very productive years back-to-back in 2010-11 with a combined 153 receptions and 2,321 receiving yards. From there, things have tapered off with consecutive subpar seasons, statistically speaking. Last year, Bowe had 57 catches for 673 yards and 5 touchdowns in Andy Reid's first year as head coach.
Bowe's career numbers place him alongside some of the better wide receivers in NFL history, and perhaps it's there that Bowe properly resides. If you place Bowe's career numbers next to others in the NFL through their first seven seasons, it's clear that he is not an elite wideout. Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Torry Holt, and Calvin Johnson easily outpace Bowe. But when looking at NFL history since the merger (AFL-NFL merger of 1970), only 36 other wide receivers have as many receiving yards. Take a look:
While Bowe might not give the Chiefs an elite option like Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, he does stand up fairly well next to familiar receivers like Jimmy Smith, Isaac Bruce, Rod Smith, and Andre Reed. Most of his contemporaries will never be named to the Hall of Fame, but these players will definitely be remembered as team favorites and among the better players of their respective decades.
Bowe endures his fair share of criticism, and that's easy to understand given the stats of the last two years and his burdensome contract. But he's also given the Chiefs good-to-great production since he first took to the field, and has endured some miserable quarterbacks and coaching situations. With word that he showed up to camp in top shape even this year, there's good reason to believe Bowe will remain productive, and one of the NFL's better wideouts, as he turns 30-years-old this season.