Renowned NFL columnist Peter King made a good point Monday morning in his weekly “Football Morning in America” column for NBC Sports. With free agency, the NFL Draft and the undrafted free agency period in the books, teams are mostly set for 2019 barring a preseason trade.
With that in mind, King posted his initial power rankings for the 2019 season—and you didn’t need to scroll too far down to find the Kansas City Chiefs, King’s top-ranked team.
KING: Seems a little crazy with the firing of the 2017 NFL rushing champ (Kareem Hunt) six months ago and the iffy status of the NFL’s most dangerous weapon because of a child-abuse investigation (Tyreek Hill). But this is an In-Mahomes-We-Trust pick, mostly.
King is going with the 23-year-old reigning MVP, who several analysts, including ESPN’s Louis Riddick, have said should stand to improve this season. Even without now-Browns running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill for at least a period of time, King likes the Chiefs as the league’s top team because of No. 15.
KING: I wonder if you could ever say that a rookie picked as low as 56—that was the draft slot of the Chiefs’ top pick, Georgia receiver-returner Mecole Hardman—would enter a season as the rookie with the most pressure to produce at a high level from opening day. With Hill facing a possible suspension to start the season, or more significant banishment, Hardman’s a huge factor for the Chiefs.
I thought King’s note about Hill was interesting due to his language of “a possible suspension to start the season.”
Someone asked me on Twitter Friday if I thought Hill would play for the Chiefs in 2019. The answer is simple: in my mind, the chances of Hill remaining in Kansas City become higher with each passing day. The latest from the Chiefs on Hill is still their statement from draft weekend—the wide receiver won’t partake in offseason team activities. In early May, Hill’s lawyer denied child abuse claims in a letter to the NFL.
Assuming no new information on the situation is released, I now believe Hill will play for the club. I also believe he will serve some sort of suspension, and if that is the case, the Chiefs will likely need to rely on the rookie earlier than they otherwise would have.
KING: I went back and watched his highlights from the 2018 national title game against Alabama, and he made a couple of prime-time plays. He took a shotgun snap at quarterback from the ‘Bama 1-yard line, play-faked to Sony Michel, and beat three defenders around the left corner for a touchdown. Then he flashed his 4.33 speed down the right sideline, beating the Alabama corner for an 80-yard TD from Jake Fromm. But is Hardman as tough and competitive as Hill? Will he strike fear into defenses? We’ll see in a tough three-week open to the KC season: at Jacksonville, at Oakland, Baltimore at home.
I think there is a misconception in Kansas City and nationally that the Chiefs, in the case of a Hill suspension or release, would simply run the exact same game plans, swapping in Hardman for whatever it was that Hill would have been asked to do.
What I see as much more likely is Hardman being part of a different game plan entirely that primarily revolves around the use of Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Damien Williams. Hardman would maintain the home-run ability on returns, setting up better field position for Mahomes and company. If and when Hill returned to the club, he would regain a primary role as Hardman continued to develop.
King rounded out the top five with the 2) New England Patriots, 3) Indianapolis Colts, 4) Los Angeles Rams and 5) Los Angeles Chargers. King placed the Oakland Raiders 19th and the Denver Broncos 24th. I encourage you to read his full column and rankings here.
Are the Chiefs the best team in the league right now?
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