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Will Franklin's Opportunity

38TheSpot has posted a short, sweet video interview with new Chiefs draftee, our lone 4th rounder, Missouri's WR William Franklin. He answers softball questions about playing alongside Dwayne Bowe and Brodie Croyle, underneathe Herm Edwards, and Chase Daniels' potential to shine in the NFL.

It's your standard offseason conversation with an active player. Probably the most interesting nugget of information isn't spoken, but implied: Franklin says that he's worked out with Bowe ("D-Bowe") in the past, and he received a call from Bowe soon after being drafted by the team. It may never sink in how far out of the park the Chiefs knocked their first pick in 2007; Bowe has already become a young leader for this offense. His production on the field is only a fraction of how he benefits this team.

We here in Missouri are very familiar with Franklin. A part of that magnificent offense with Daniels, Coffman, Rucker, Maclin, and Temple, Franklin emerged as one of the Daniels favorite targets downfield. That whole offense last year was incredibly fast, and you could always tell that the Missouri offense kicked into another gear against slower defenses that couldn't contain anybody anywhere. Franklin, for all rights and purposes, was a crucial part to that, often attracting two defenders who couldn't keep up with his downfield speed or precise route-running.

As a fourth round pick, Franklin could not have landed in a better professional situation. This team has a Kennison-sized hole at the #2 receivers, and the available bodies they have seem more like slot receivers and rotation guys more than consistent producers of starting caliber. Jeff Webb has shown great hands and churned out some good games against last year's poorer defenses. He's a decent red zone threat, but one wonders how much more he has to grow. Darling is an underachieving speedster who was stuck in a bad position in Baltimore behind the Ravens' preference for vets. And Bobby Sippio, for all his Arena League fame and velcro hands, doesn't seem to have the speed to get open in this league. The Chiefs also acquired a number of UDFA WRs, but none of them seem to be generating much buzz just yet.

Franklin's opportunity is as good as it gets, even considering how much trouble rookie receivers have in the NFL. Expect a rough rookie season from Franklin that will not be indicative of his NFL career. 300-500 yards receiving and maybe two or three starts would be satisfactory, giving him the requisite experience to make a push for the #2 starting slot come 2009.

But expect dropped balls. Expect bone-headed plays. Expect him to get leveled a time or two. And expect more than a couple 0 reception performances.

2008 is the Chiefs' extended preseason for 2009. It's not pretty but that's how you have to embrace it. We can tolerate these mistakes as we sift through which players we can build around, which players we should cast aside, and how many more pieces we need to become a more complete team.

It's rebuilding. As Herm Edwards has said, it's called life. And it gets off the ground by giving as many great chances as possible to young, promising talent like Will Franklin.

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