Since the Kansas City Chiefs decided not to bring back Sammy Watkins for a fourth season, the hunt has been on for his long-term replacement. In Clemson receiver Cornell Powell, the Chiefs may just have found him.
An offseason of frustration in the search for a receiver has required a lot of patience from Chiefs general manager Brett Veach — a trait Powell knows all about.
For the first four years of his college career, Powell had to bide his time and wait for his opportunity to showcase his talents — a typically stacked Clemson receiver room meant chances to get on the field were not as abundant as he would have liked. However, when his opportunity came, Powell certainly made the most of it.
Having just 329 receiving yards and three touchdowns in his first four years at Clemson, Powell exploded in his senior year — posting 882 yards and catching seven touchdowns.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he would have got drafted without his career year in 2020 — from relatively unknown to draftee in just one season.
This catch is just silly.— Tom Childs (@tomchilds56) May 1, 2021
Welcome to KC, Cornell Powell. pic.twitter.com/xq6BcGo3Ht
His experiences in Clemson should put him in good stead for what is to come in Kansas City, with both teams now known for their stacked wide receiver rooms.
“Being at Clemson, you have great players around you,” said Powell. “You just have to learn how to prove yourself each and every day. I had so much more to show to everyone. What I displayed this season was not even scratching the surface yet. I’m ready to come to Kansas City and just grind. Many of my brothers are in the NFL that I played with in that wide receiver room, and I’m so proud of them. I learned a lot from them at Clemson. We just had this Clemson mindset to just dominate everything, every play, every possession. I’m looking to continue that and just bring this winning attitude to Kansas City, which they already have, so it’s the perfect fit for me.”
With Tyreek Hill being the clear No. 1 receiver, the rest of the Chiefs' corps is less predictable. Demarcus Robinson has proven to be a favored target of Patrick Mahomes, but lapses in concentration raise concerns. Mecole Hardman has a reputation of making big plays, yet these are too few and far between in many onlooker’s eyes. Lastly, there is a fan favorite, Byron Pringle — a player that has yet to step up and stake a claim for the top job behind Hill.
It would appear right now that there could be a committee approach to the second and third receiver positions in the Chiefs offense.
If you’re expecting Powell to walk in and take a large percentage of the snaps Week 1, then you’ll be disappointed. Andy Reid’s offense is notoriously difficult for rookie wide receivers to pick up, and therefore patience may be required of Powell once again. With his particular skill set and seemingly tailor-made traits that are ideal for the vacant “X” receiver spot, he shouldn’t have to wait too long for his opportunity.
Finally from the ND game, two plays that demonstrate Powell's physicality.— Tom Childs (@tomchilds56) May 2, 2021
Nice to see him catch with his hands on the first play, as oppose to his body. pic.twitter.com/gY4UAiK4JH
Playing with Trevor Lawrence, Powell is certainly used to catching passes from the best of the best. Going from catching passes from the best player in college football to catching passes from the best player in the NFL hardly seems fair on everyone else, but Powell knows he has been very fortunate with his quarterbacks.
“What I have learned is that you can’t compare greatness,” said Powell. “Trevor is great. Patrick is great. I’m just blessed to go from one great quarterback to the next. As soon as I get to Kansas City, I’ll get to work with Patrick. Just try to get on the same page as him, try to get something to happen for the team. The ultimate goal is to win Super Bowls, so I’m ready to do that.”
Rightly so, Chiefs fans will be clamoring for Powell to get on to the field as soon as possible — but just like Powell in college, we will all need to show a little patience. An excellent special teamer, we may have to get used to the idea of seeing special teams coordinator Dave Toub — not Reid — calling Powell’s number early in 2021.
But make no mistake: when Cornell Powell eventually lines up in the offense, it is going to be a lot of fun.