The Kansas City Chiefs 2014 receivers will long be a trivia question in the NFL. Which team went an entire season without throwing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver?
The receiver position relies on free releases, proper route running, timing, anticipation and understanding how to find the void in zone coverage. It is also one of the more demanding roles in Andy Reid's West Coast offense.
Let's take a look at what we saw in 2014 and what we can expect in 2015 from the Chiefs receivers:
1. Dwayne Bowe
Bowe's days as a No. 1 wide receiver appear to be nearing an end. Bowe looked to be running on empty until the Cardinals game when he hurdled a defender and willed his way to a first down. It was the performance many had been waiting to see all season. He followed that up with another solid performance the following week against the Raiders. The frustrating part is that those performances have typically come in spurts. Kansas City financially invested in Bowe as a No. 1 wide receiver. The organization put their trust into him to prove them right on the compensation. Unfortunately, he has been unable to deliver.
The eight-year veteran isn't the right fit for this offense. At this stage in his career he would be better served to be a slot receiver and a number three option on an NFL roster that already has speed on the outside. He can work the middle as a possession receiver. But will that be in Kansas City?
2. Jason Avant
The late free agent signing has been exactly what the Chiefs needed. Avant, who is a free agent, understands the offense and takes young receivers under his wing. He practices just like he plays and gives maximum effort on the field. The nine-year veteran is a savvy route runner who understands how to sit in the voids of zone coverage. Avant is a tremendous downfield blocker and he will adjust routes to help his quarterback out (think of the 41-yard deep ball from Alex Smith). Given what the Chiefs have, Avant deserves a shot to compete for a spot on the 2015 roster.
3. Albert Wilson
Wilson really began to shine when the pads came on at training camp. He showcased his ability to get free releases off press coverage and did a good job exploding out of his cuts and adjusting to make tough catches seem routine. He improved throughout training camp until he hurt his ankle. Wilson had done enough to impress the staff to make the 53-man roster but the injury pushed his development back until the second half of the season. He clearly earned the coaching staff's trust in his final four games when he essentially replaced veteran Donnie Avery. Avant has been a big help in the growth of Wilson over the final month of the season.
4. Donnie Avery
Avery was one of the Chiefs top three receivers heading into the season. When he sustained the hernia injury before Week 5, things started to unravel. The injury took six weeks for him to recover and almost a month of practice before he saw time in a game. His fumble in the fourth quarter of the Broncos game was one of his last plays in the season. Wilson took over his spot for the remainder of the season, at which point Avery was inactive on game days. After the ending to the 2014 season, it's hard to envision him returning.
5. Frankie Hammond Jr.
Hammond made his impact on special teams this season as a returner. The potential for Hammond has been there when the ball is in his hands because he is good in space. His route running needs a lot of work before he can make a consistent contribution to the Chiefs offense.
6. Junior Hemingway
Hemingway hit a rough patch this season. He has been a solid special teams gunner for two seasons but that was all he consistently brought to the roster this season. He sustained some injuries throughout the season. Hemingway had trouble at times getting open and falls into a similar category of a possession receiver like Bowe. This season will likely be a make or break opportunity for him.
7. AJ Jenkins
Jenkins needed to have a big season in 2014. Jenkins has good speed and was able to be utilized early on in the season in the packages De'Anthony Thomas ran during training camp. When Thomas came back, Jenkins wasn't needed in that role. The Chiefs gave him so many opportunities to push for additional time on the field but it just never panned out. He injured his shoulder and was put on injured reserve so the Chiefs signed Avant. Jenkins' future in Kansas City is hazy.
The wide receiver position will need a massive overhaul in the offseason while Avant and Wilson look like the most promising candidates to survive the changes. Kansas City needs to get more explosive at receiver and need additions that can immediately help. It took Thomas and Wilson until the fourth quarter of the season to see time at receiver. A rookie wide receiver likely won't make the immediate impact fans expect. The Chiefs need to find some veterans that can quickly execute the offense, build timing with Alex Smith and create mismatches across the board.