1) Kansas City Chiefs
We don’t have to go far to find evidence that this could be the club to usurp New England in the AFC hierarchy. Kansas City was this close (thank you, Dee Ford) to beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, and the Chiefs nearly knocked off the Pats at their place in Week 6 of the regular season, too. It all starts at QB, where Patrick Mahomes is the reigning MVP. It’s easy to forget that last season was his first as an NFL starter -- he’s only going to get better. Travis Kelce is the league’s best tight end. We still don’t know the status of Tyreek Hill for next season, but I believe there’s enough depth and talent for this offense to be one of the league’s most potent, even if he’s not around.
Patrick Mahomes +600
Mahomes is the favorite to win again after taking home the 2018 MVP award. He lit the NFL on fire last season with 50 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards passing. Only two other quarterbacks have thrown 50 touchdown passes in a season. The first was Tom Brady in 2007 and the second was Peyton Manning in 2013. Neither followed up with the same type of production the next season (though Brady was injured in 2008).
Kansas City Chiefs: Drafted Mecole Hardman
“Every day he got a little better,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Hardman at the conclusion of the team’s rookie minicamp, per Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star. “These are all new. These routes are new to him. He did a nice job in the red zone, which normally is the toughest place to work, but he did extremely well there. He had a good finish.”
Special mention: No. 22 Kansas City Chiefs
Primary wide receivers: Tyreek Hill?, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman
With Tyreek Hill’s child abuse investigation pending and discipline (or a possible release) looming, Patrick Mahomes’ top targets in 2019 may now be Watkins(3.2 catches, 46 yards per game the last three seasons), Robinson (22 catches in 2018), and second-round rookie Hardman. Hardman has the chops to overdeliver in his first year as a pro, but this group of wideouts will give Mahomes a legitimate challenge to overcome in the follow-up to last year’s MVP campaign.
“I can see things in front of me like the quarterback sees,” said the 59-year-old of participating in the team drills. “Of course, I have a little bit of fun. Make myself feel young. I’ve seen a lot of good things.
Averaging 8.3 yards after the catch per reception in 2018, Hardman should fit in just fine to the Chiefs free-flowing passing offense. Even without seeing a high-volume of targets last season, when Georgia attempted to get Hardman the ball good things would happen. His 126.7 passer rating when targeted last season ranked 33rd in the country; his year consisted of seven touchdowns and just one interception when targeted.
The Chiefs have done it both ways, improving via the draft and free agency, bringing in top notched guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark who will hopefully get this team back in the driver’s seat toward the AFC West title.
”Sometimes it’s really difficult in free agency in this league to find out the intangible things. The things you can’t see on film,” Spagnuolo said.
Around the league
Le’Veon Bell is exercising his right to skip voluntary offseason workouts with the New York Jets. Yet, coaches aren’t the only ones who tried to convince the running back it would be good if he worked with his new teammates.
”I talked to him and I told him, ‘You understand this place is different than Pittsburgh,’” McLendon said, via NorthJersey.com. “I said, ‘You need to get back so you can understand the quarterback and the situation.’ ... I told him, ‘The media is gonna get you if you don’t come back.’ That’s the truth. I did tell him that.”
The lawsuit, dated May 29, was filed in the United States District Court’s Eastern District of Michigan. McDowell, who is listed as a resident of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was drafted 35th overall by the Seahawks in 2017 but never played a down for the team after sustaining a head injury in an ATV accident that summer.
“I just want to see him,” Kitchens said.
“What did Beckham miss?” Kitchens was asked.
“A lot — the offense,” via cleveland.com reporter Mary Kay Cabot.
Bisciotti, speaking on an hour-long conference call with season-ticket owners, reassured those worried about Jackson’s increased risk of injury that the young franchise quarterback would be running less this season compared to 2018. Jackson set the NFL record for quarterbacks by running 147 times last season and surpassed Bobby Douglass’s record of 141 in 1972.
Biggest QB misstep: Failing Alex Smith
Alex Smith got a raw deal in San Francisco. That’s right, I said it. As the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Smith was charged with providing consistency and stability under center for a franchise that regularly changed everything else around him. He had five different offensive coordinators in his first five seasons, with an ever-rotating cast of pass catchers. It’s impossible to build relationships with your teammates and establish timing on plays when both differ drastically from one year to the next.
“I can’t speak too far into the future. I guess in a way I am [working in the league]. I’m doing this little thing for the NFL for the 100th year, I went from Columbus yesterday to Ada, Ohio, for Wilson, where they make the footballs. ... I went and kind of learned how to make a football, looking for a job. And I failed miserably. And I’m going to Chicago next week. ... I have enjoyed that. ... I have enjoyed staying connected with it in this way.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Thursday marked the second OTA session in which the media was invited to practice.
The Chiefs offensive coordinator made a surprisingly strong statement to the media after Thursday’s OTA session.
With the star tight end hobbled after ankle surgery and Demetrius Harris in Cleveland, the Chiefs are drawing water from a new well.
Thursday session is open to the media, and reporters are keeping track.
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