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What we learned about the Chiefs this week

Taking a look at the week of June 6 on Arrowhead Pride...

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In a new cornerback ranking, PFF inexplicably puts Rashad Fenton near the bottom

The week began with the football analytics site ranking the league’s top 32 cornerbacks — a list in which the Kansas City Chiefs’ fourth-year corner was ranked 31st.

As we’ve previously noted, “tiers” is the new buzzword in NFL rankings. In this one, Anthony Treash separated players into five groups: Elite, On the Cusp of Elite, Veterans with Juice Still in the Tank, Good Players with Boom or Bust Tendencies and Up-and-Comers. Fenton was in the last group, which included players ranked from 27th through 32nd.

Sometimes we’ve seen these tiers used to separate players based on their skill set — just as PFF’s Sam Monson did with safeties a couple of weeks ago. But here — unless a player is elite or near-elite — Treash seems to have decided that age should be a determining factor; Fenton appears to have been placed in the bottom tier strictly because he is a fourth-year player.

This makes little sense — because under PFF’s grading system, Fenton’s 2021 overall grade of 79.1 ranked sixth among all cornerbacks. That grade was higher than those for seven of the nine cornerbacks listed in Treash’s Elite tier!

Orlando Brown Jr. says Chiefs won’t want to enter 2022 with ‘backup left tackle’

On Tuesday, the team’s franchise-tagged left tackle appeared on NFL Total Access, making waves when he hinted that if he and the team don’t make a long-term deal, he might consider refusing to play on the tag in 2022.

“Very confident. Very confident,” Brown told Mike Garafolo and Shaun O’Hara when asked his level of confidence in regard to a deal getting done. “Especially simply based off the things that have come into effect within our division, the type of defensive ends that have been brought in, the type of players and all of that type of stuff. It’s not the year to go into the season with a backup left tackle. So, I’m very confident that the Kansas City Chiefs will get that done.”

PFF ranks Chiefs’ running back group among the league’s worst

On Wednesday, PFF was back in the news, ranking Kansas City running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones as the league’s 30th-best pairing.

It’s not a news flash that Edwards-Helaire’s production for the Chiefs has been a disappointment. But Linsey’s take suggests that Jones had a very similar year at Tampa Bay in 2021 — albeit in more limited use. That’s also borne out by traditional statistics. Edwards-Healire rushed for 4.3 yards per attempt in 2021. Jones produced 4.1. Linsey suggests that Jones’ propensity for fumbling helped keep him on the bench for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — but both he and Edwards-Helaire had two in 2021, along with four rushing touchdowns each.

If you’re hoping for an improved Kansas City rushing attack, this isn’t good news. But it’s also true that with its new, beefier offensive line (and with Tyreek Hill now in Miami) we’re hoping for the Chiefs to have a somewhat greater emphasis on the running game in 2022 — which could be reflected in improved production from both backs. Then there are the wildcards: the presence of seventh round-pick Isiah Pacheco and undrafted free agents Jerrion Ealy and Tayon Fleet-Davis — not to mention to return of Derrick Gore.

Gehrig Dieter retires from the NFL

In early May, Kansas City released one of its most visible practice-squad players — and on Wednesday, he hung up his cleats.

Signed out of Alabama as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Dieter spent his entire career in Kansas City — almost all of it on the team’s practice squad. He appeared in a total of 10 regular-season games, catching two passes for a total of 32 yards. He also appeared in three postseason games, during which he caught another pass for 11 yards.

He also saw significant use on special teams during the games for which he was active.

But that’s not why you know his name. You know it because of his friendship with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who also joined the team in 2017.

During his first couple of years with the team, Mahomes sometimes spoke of his relationship with Dieter. Offseason videos of Mahomes working with his pass-catchers at high-school football fields often showed Dieter among those snagging passes.

Many observers ultimately came to believe that Dieter remained on the practice squad year after year because of his relationship with the starting quarterback. But it’s a lot more likely that in Dieter, the Chiefs saw someone who could play a number of different roles on the scout team during practices — and who came to work with the right attitude every day.

Chiefs’ Jody Fortson, Skyy Moore, L’Jarius Sneed progressing from offseason injuries as team wrapped Day 9 of OTAs

After Thursday’s next-to-last voluntary OTA session, the head coach had good news about several players.

In previous media looks (on Day 3 and Day 6), three key players for the Chiefs — tight end Jody Fortson, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and wide receiver Skyy Moore — all performed limitedly as they dealt with ailments. Fortson was being eased back in after having offseason surgery to repair his torn Achilles, Sneed needed some extra time as he dealt with a knee issue and Moore strained his hamstring before even arriving at mid-May’s rookie minicamp.

All three players looked normal on Thursday, actively participating in all team drills.

“Had a good day [Thursday at] practice,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “It was good to get the guys out there, and a couple of the guys that are nicked up are working their way back in, which is good. Working hard, good effort, young guys are getting better, which is a plus. We’re still throwing a ton at them — and they’re doing well — so I appreciate their effort on that.”

The reps are particularly important for Moore, who has yet to take his first NFL snap. Moore has been seen wearing a compression sleeve on his left leg, which is likely a way of supporting the hamstring.

“He has been doing a lot more,” said Reid of his rookie receiver. “He’s doing a good job of understanding what we’re trying to get done. Now it’s just a matter of the reps and catching up with the other guys.”

Andy Reid reacts to Orlando Brown’s hint about not playing on the franchise tag

Naturally, reporters also wanted to know what the head coach thought about his left tackle’s remarks on Tuesday.

“Hey... listen: there are things that are said,” the head coach observed to reporters following Thursday’s next-to-last OTA session. “Half of it might not have been really said.”

Characteristically, Reid didn’t criticize Brown for the hint, choosing instead to emphasize how the Chiefs would approach it from their side.

“My thing is [that] you just try to do what you have to do to make it right — and be as honest as you can,” said Reid. “We’re quiet about that. We try to do everything with the person we’re involved with — and not tell the world about it. That’s how we go about business.

“Our guys are always very honest and deliberate, which I think is a great way to go — and something Clark [Hunt] believes in. Fair for the player... fair for the team... let’s roll. And that can be done with a good working relationship.”

And Reid made it clear that from the Chiefs’ perspective, the priority is to get a deal done.

“We love Orlando here,” he declared. “He’s a good human being. He’s a good professional; he’s grown up around it. I think he’s got good counsel. So we’ve just got to work through it.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling on Mahomes and Rodgers: ‘Eyes in the back of their head’

And when the former Green Bay Packers wide receiver took the podium, reporters wanted him to compare his old quarterback to his new one.

In practice, Valdes-Scantling was also observed catching a no-look pass from Mahomes. He explained that his is better prepared for that than most receivers, due to playing four seasons with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“I had the first quarterback that did it,” he recalled. “So I got that a lot. You always kind of be aware that the ball could come to you at any given time. Playing with Aaron for four years, he did it a lot. I think one of the first passes he threw me at training camp was a no-look pass. So I’m accustomed to it.

“Just always be prepared because they have eyes in the back of their head and can throw the ball any kind of way. Behind his head or wherever. Pat’s gifted like that where he can do those kind of things. I’m just excited to have another quarterback that’s that talented.”

Projecting 2022 numbers for Chiefs’ wide receivers

Then on Friday, Brandon Kiley did some math to see what kind of production we might see from Kansas City’s wideouts in 2022.

It’s entirely possible the Chiefs do not have a 1,000-yard wide receiver next year. In fact, these projections have exactly that taking place.

Chiefs wide receiver projections

Player Tgt Rec Yds TD
Juju Smith-Schuster 110 80 850 8
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 85 55 825 6
Mecole Hardman 75 40 600 6
Skyy Moore 70 45 550 4
Total 340 220 2,825 24

Is that a problem?

Not if Travis Kelce is himself. The Chiefs chose this path for a reason. They could have re-signed Hill for top dollar and continued down the same path of two players dominating the targets. They decided to go down a different route for a reason. Some of that is cap related, but it’s also about how teams defended the Chiefs last season.

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