Turnover in the wide receiver room — particularly after shockingly trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins — was the reason many doubted the 2022 Kansas City Chiefs.
The eventual Super Bowl LVII champions traded one of the best weapons in football — opting for strength in numbers approach in assembling the room. Every wide receiver to register a target in the Super Bowl was a first-year Chief.
A year after rebuilding the position, the reality is that the Chiefs may have to do it again. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Justin Watson have completed the one-year contracts signed last offseason and will soon reenter the market. Mecole Hardman — Kansas City's longest-tenured wideout who battled injuries over the season's second half — will join them in free agency.
Speaking from the podium at Tuesday's 2023 NFL Draft combine, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid highlighted Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney as options to take on bigger passing game roles in 2023. Moore was Kansas City's second-round draft selection in 2022. Toney — a former first-round selection of the New York Giants — joined the Chiefs via trade in November.
"I think both of them — Skyy and KT — will probably have bigger roles," Reid predicted. "As they come in, they'll be more familiar with the offense, mainly. So you can utilize them in different ways. Both of them are very talented. I really like their attitude towards the game — and we'll see how that goes, once we get to camp and the OTAs."
The traditional counting stats of the two young players may be underwhelming, but both players flashed potential in the Super Bowl, with each scoring a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown on similar plays.
Speaking after Reid, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach expressed confidence that quarterback Patrick Mahomes — the 2022 league MVP — can make any version of the wide receivers room successful.
"I think the unique thing about Patrick is he can really play any style of football," Veach observed, "and we've seen it throughout his career. He can play the up-tempo, run-and-gun stuff, but I think last year was a good turning point for our team. We saw a lot of different coverages — and teams forced us to play patient."
Much of the narrative entering last season was that the Chiefs would be unable to replace Hill. Veach acknowledged that replacing the now seven-time Pro Bowl selection is not his goal — because it is an impossible task.
"When we looked at that trade last year," Veach explained, "I think in our mindset, we knew you're not going to find another Tyreek Hill. So let's just go out there and get good football players. And the cool thing — and the advantage that we had — is Pat can play any style of football.
"He can work with the bigger receivers and play more of a tempo game and just play the small game, if we have to. I don't think we ever thought we're going out there and find another Tyreek Hill. Certainly speed and athleticism, and versatility will always be at the top of our list. But really, we just want to collect good football players."
However, the architect of two Super Bowl-winning rosters admits he would not turn away from collecting another good football player with game-breaking speed.
"As far as Tyreek Hill — that speed, any team is going to want that," Veach stated. "I think it's probably more imperative depending on the quarterback. The cool thing about having Pat Mahomes is certainly if you get him a Tyreek Hill, it makes your team more dangerous. But I think Pat showed last year that he can work with a variety of skill sets and be effective."