Kansas City Chiefs: WR Demarcus Robinson
Since being drafted in 2016, wideout Demarcus Robinson has remained one of the least known members of the prolific Kansas City Chiefs passing attack—no small feat, given the national exposure the team has recently commanded.
Largely overshadowed by Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins, Robinson has nonetheless been a valuable complementary weapon for Patrick Mahomes—and Alex Smith before him.
The Florida product has made just 32 starts in five seasons but has produced at least 449 receiving yards in each of the past two. In 2020, he also returned two punts and two kickoffs while helping to provide a quarterback rating of 108.4 when targeted.
With Watkins departing for Baltimore in free agency, there’s a good chance Robinson sees an expanded role in 2021. Don’t be surprised if he makes more of a national name for himself.
SETTING THE EDGE
Defensive ends Tanoh Kpassagnon, who signed a free-agent deal with the New Orleans Saints, and Alex Okafor, an unrestricted free agent, are gone.
The Chiefs need to identify a complementary pass rusher opposite Frank Clark and the top contenders project to be Taco Charlton, Mike Danna and rookie Joshua Kaindoh, the team’s fourth-round pick this spring.
That trio will rotate throughout OTAs, but here’s another factor to consider.
The Chiefs signed defensive tackle Jarran Reed this offseason. Reed could present a stout tandem alongside Chris Jones in the interior of the team’s 4-3 base scheme. The Chiefs could even consider sliding Jones to an edge spot, depending on their defensive sub-packages.
3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
#2 Running back: Jerick McKinnon
This is quite a tandem to put behind the new, revamped Kansas City offensive line. Clyde Edward-Helaire presents a mismatch in the passing game and Jerick McKinnon offers excellent speed out of the backfield. Both players here have incredibly high ceilings and will have their best opportunity yet to prove themselves.
Edwards-Helaire was drafted 32nd overall after the Chiefs Super Bowl victory in 2020. To the dismay of many fans that were concerned about draft value, Brett Veach took the first running back off the board in the draft. In his first season, Edwards-Helaire showed flashes but struggled to find consistency. Behind a new offensive line and a year of training with the offense, Edwards-Helaire is primed and ready for a big season.
One more Pro Bowl, one more playoff run
Montana was banged up during the 1993 season, but he still made one final Pro Bowl and led the Chiefs to the playoffs. There, he showed that old magic in pulling off two come-from-behind wins, taking KC to the AFC title game. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion in that game, and the Buffalo Bills would head to yet another Super Bowl.
Around the NFL
The dialogue could intensify for several teams as June 2 approaches. That’s when Atlanta could save more than $15 million against the cap by releasing or trading the 32-year-old star. The latter option is obviously preferred, as Jones would figure to net a notable haul.
After all, he’s still producing at an elite level. Jones had made first- or second-team All-Pro in five consecutive seasons prior to playing just nine games last year because of a hamstring injury. Despite the lingering ailment, he averaged 85.7 yards per game in 2020. (His career rate of 95.5 yards is the best in NFL history.) The otherwise-durable Jones averaged 1,564.66 yards per season from 2014-19.
Former NFL offensive lineman and assistant coach Eugene Chung, who is Korean, says he was told he was “not the right minority” while interviewing for an NFL coaching job this offseason.
“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,’” Chung said during a webinar Thursday, according to The Boston Globe, adding, “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. The last time I checked, when I looked in the mirror and brushed my teeth, I was a minority.’”
According to Chung, after he asked the interviewer to explain, he was told he was “not the right minority that we’re looking for.”
Chung did not identify the team in question but said he was stunned to hear such a comment.
How much longer can the Lions wait for Hand to click? After a phenomenal rookie year in 2018, Hand has seemingly fallen off the face of the Earth. Since then, Lions fans have been waiting for Hand to transition into the player they’d hoped he be.
2021 has to be the year for Hand. His contract is up after this upcoming season, and he is literally on his last chance in Detroit. New defensive line coach Todd Wash could be the answer for Hand. He’s had success with the Jaguars and their “Sacksonville” defensive line, as well as stops in Seattle and Tampa Bay that showed some promise.
This one almost feels like a lost cause. The big difference between Tavai and the other players on this list is that Tavai might not even get the 2021 season to prove himself. It’s been that bad. It’s all speculation at this point, but Tavai will probably need to show out at training camp just to make the team.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Tavai. He’ll have to stand out with Jamie Collins, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes and probably Jalen Reeves-Maybin essentially ahead of him at this point. All these guys are more athletic than him and bring more to the table. The Lions may not have the space to carry a fifth off-the-ball linebacker. New linebacker coach Mark DeLeone has some history helping linebackers get on track. He helped Bears linebacker Roquan Smith have his best career year in 2020 after Smith struggled early on. DeLeone seems to like Tavai as well. This could ultimately help the linebacker out.
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