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The Kansas City Chiefs have some shoes to fill at the wide receiver position this offseason, with the departure of Sammy Watkins in free agency.

Tyreek Hill is the clear top dog of the position group, but from there down, it’s considered to be anyone’s game. Many are hoping that Mecole Hardman will step up in his third year as a professional. That is what’s typically considered the natural progression of an NFL player, by your third year you’re ready to contribute at the highest level.

The problem with that line of thinking is that Chiefs HC Andy Reid thinks it’s not so cut and dry. He appreciates having depth at the position, but just like a fine wine, he believes his receivers get better with age.

“Yeah, I think [depth] is important,” Reid said following the conclusion of mandatory minicamp. “I also think that the wide receiver position is one that is deficient just a bit in the stats category, where years help improvement at that position. So, people say that’s a position that you spend your four years with and then you get right—I’m not sure I agree with that. I think there’s a whole lot that goes into the learning process and production. A bit hard to measure, but I believe that.”

Reid is known for having a notoriously tough system for receivers, where it’s rare for a player to pick up the playbook and perform immediately. That’s because of all of the different things that he asks of his receivers. The Chiefs train their guys to know all of the different receiver positions and all of the different responsibilities at those positions. That’s likely one of the reasons why he feels his veterans produce better— they’ve got a better mastery of his complex system.

The Chiefs, of course, have a number of receivers on the roster who have been in that system for some time. Demarcus Robinson is entering his sixth season. Gehrig Dieter and Marcus Kemp are both entering their fifth seasons with the team. Byron Pringle is entering his fourth season. Ultimately, Reid will have a lot of those veteran players to consider when crafting his depth chart for 2021.

How those players are utilized on game day, well, it might be decided on a game-to-game basis. There might not be No. 2 or No. 3 receivers in the traditional sense, at least not right away. Just like he’s used with his backfield in the past, Reid believes a committee approach could be in order for the receiver position during the 2021 NFL season.

“So, I like the guys that we have,” Reid continued. “It might be by committee, but we’ve got a good nucleus of wide receivers there and I feel comfortable with those guys.”

If there’s a game where the Chiefs think they can take advantage using speed, Hardman is probably your guy. If they need a post-up receiver, Pringle might get some more play. Just don’t expect Reid or Eric Bieniemy or anyone else to come out and assign a No. 2 or No. 3 spot to any of these players unless they truly earn the designation.


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