While the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs are playing much better than the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs, there are still many holes that need to be filled on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs are thin at the offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver, and linebacker positions. However, all eyes are still focused on a franchise quarterback in preparation for the post-Matt Cassel era.
One can debate for hours about what position the Chiefs should attempt to fill with their first pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Will it be a QB, or perhaps a WR, or how about a LB? Some may say that we still need to prepare for the retirement of Brian Waters, and think that we should draft an offensive lineman. Some may say that we still need another safety that is more dangerous than Jon McGraw. If you were Scott Pioli, what would you do?
Well, if I was Scott Pioli (and I am not), then I would examine my options based on the talent of the draft class. It just so happens that the 2011 NFL draft may have the best wide receiver class since 2004, as well as the best quarterbacking class since 2004.
The 2004 NFL draft set several records, including the most wide receivers selected in the first round, with seven. The first wide receiver selected was Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) out of the University of Pittsburgh, and the second WR drafted was Roy Williams (Dallas Cowboys) out of the University of Texas. This class also contained wide receivers like Bernard Berrian (Minnesota Vikings), Lee Evans (Buffalo Bills), and Devery Henderson (New Orleans Saints). The 2004 NFL draft also had an awesome group of quarterbacks that included the likes of Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Schaub. In fact, Rivers, Manning and Roethlisberger (3) already have more Super Bowl wins than the 1983 class of Elway, Kelly and Marino (2).
The 2011 draft class of quarterbacks will include Case Keenum of Houston, Ricky Stanzi of Iowa, Terrell Pryor of Ohio State, Christian Ponder of Florida State, Ryan Mallet of Arkansas, Andrew Luck of Stanford, Jake Locker of Washington, and Cameron Newton of Auburn (a former backup of Tim Tebow when he attended the University of Florida). Albeit, the Kansas City Chiefs could use another big play receiver, therefore we should first take a look at five of the possible twelve receivers of this outstanding class of 2011. Then next week we will take a look at five more, then at an even later time we will examine the exceptional class at quarterback. So, let us begin in gothic Savannah.
Adriel Jeremiah “A.J.” Green, #8, is 6’4″, 212 lbs., and is enrolled at the University of Georgia. He is currently a junior, and most likely will enter in the 2011 NFL draft (as most of the wide receivers of this class are juniors). Green’s resume is as follows: 2008 SEC Freshman of the Year (Coaches), 2008 All SEC First Team, 2009 All SEC First Team, and he played in the 2009 Independece Bowl in a 44-20 win against Texas A&M. Green had six catches for 57 yards in that game. In 2009, he also won the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player award. He reminds me of another Georgia Bulldog named Hines Ward.
As a freshman Green also played in the Capital One Bowl game against Michigan State, and had one catch for 12 yards, and one carry for six yards in a 24-12 victory. In the fourth game of his college career, against Arizona State, Green had eight catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. For this, he was named SEC Player of the Week. Green was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 regular season after he admitted to selling his 2009 Independence Bowl Jersey to a former North Carolina defensive back Chris Hawkins, who the NCAA described as an agent or someone who markets amateur athletes. Currently, Green has 131 receptions for over 2,100 yards with 18 touchdowns. In his spring combine Green ran a 4.37 40-yard dash.
The next three wide receivers are my personal favorites, Julio Jones, Ryan Broyles and Justin Blackmon, nevertheless Blackmon is only a sophomore. In addition to this, Blackmon was arrested last week for a DUI, and is currently serving a one game suspension. So, let’s begin with him shall we.
Justin Blackmon, #81, is 6’1″, 205 lbs., and is enrolled at Oklahoma State University. Although he played in the shadows of Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant, Blackmon is slowly making a name for himself. The problem with Blackmon is that he is only a sophomore, and may not be eligible for the 2011 NFL draft. Redshirted in 2008, Blackmon had a typical freshman year in 2009 with just 20 receptions for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Not so for 2010. This season Blackmon is having a stellar year recording 62 receptions for 1,112 yards with 14 touchdowns, leading the NCAA in reception yardage and touchdowns.
This season, Justin has four games with 10 catches or more, seven consecutive 125+ yard games, and he is averaging at least two touchdowns per game. Outstanding. Against Texas Tech two weeks ago, Blackmon had 10 catches for 207 yards with one touchdown. Last year Blackmon led the Oklahoma State Cowboys to the AT&T Cotton Bowl against Dexter McCluster (drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs & the 2010 Cotton Bowl MVP) and the Ole Miss Rebels, but they lost that game 21-7. Blackmon had four catches for 45 yards in that game, while Bryant was ruled ineligible for the rest of the 2009 season on October 7 for violating an NCAA bylaw. He failed to fully disclose his interaction with Deion Sanders, a former NFL player, to the NCAA. Blackmon runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.
Quintorris Lopez “Julio” Jones, #8, is 6’4″, 220 lbs., a junior, and is enrolled at the University of Alabama. Just like A.J. Green, Julio Jones was one of the best wide receivers in the country while in high school. Jones became the first true freshman receiver to start in a season opener for the Crimson Tide in 2008. Jones has played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl during his freshman year, and the CITI BCS National Championship (Alabama went 14-0) game during his sophomore year in 2009. Julio has a very impressive resume that includes the 2008 AP SEC Freshman of the Year, Preseason all SEC Coaches Football Team 2009, 2010, Playboy Preseason All-American Team 2009, 2010, a 2009 SEC Champion, and a 2010 BCS National Champion.
He most reminds people of Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh) of the Arizona Cardinals, or Terrell Owens of the Cincinnati Bengals. And last week in a 41-10 victory over the University of Tennessee, Jones had 12 catches for 221 yards (the first 200+ receiving yards game of his college career). While Jones doesn’t put up the same numbers as Justin Blackmon, he is still one of the most dominant wide outs in all of college football. Jones is ranked 16th in the country in receiving yardage with 669 yards, and has 45 receptions and has scored three touchdowns. For his college career he has 146 receptions for 2,189 yards with 11 touchdowns. You can expect this kid to go somewhere in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Jones runes a 4.4 40-yard dash.
Ryan Broyles, #85, is 5’11″, 183 lbs., a junior, and is enrolled at the University of Oklahoma. This kid is truely a Dexter McCluster look-a-like, but a tad bit bigger. Broyles’ football moves after he catches the ball are nothing short of remarkable. Reshirted in 2007, Broyles made up for lost time in 2008. In his first collegiate game against Cincinnati in 2008, Broyles had seven receptions for a school freshman record 141 yards. He finished the season tying a school freshman record with 46 receptions. His 687 yards were also a Sooners freshman record. In the 2009 season he caught 76 passes for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns, as well as 13 catches for 156 yards and three touchdowns in Oklahoma’s 31-27 Sun Bowl victory over Stanford University.
Ryan Broyles has 204 receptions for 2,617 with 26 touchdowns so far in his college career. Better than all of the above. While Broyles is not as big as the above mentioned receivers, his production on the field is just as good, if not better. And one thing for sure: speed kills. Broyles runs a 4.45 40-yard dash, can bench press 310 lbs., has reliable hands, the ability to run sharp routes, and the instincts to make things happen after the catch. Ryan is fifth in the country in receiving yardage (810), and second in receptions (69). The kid is dangerous, and I like him just as much as I like Justin Blackmon. Broyles has four games this year of 10 catches or more, and six 100-yard games out of seven.
Michael Floyd, #3, is 6’3″, 227 lbs., a junior, and is enrolled at the University of Notre Dame. Considered a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, Floyd was listed as the No. 6 wide receiver in the nation. He chose Notre Dame over offers from Michigan, Iowa, Florida, Ohio State, and Miami. Moreover, no coach knows him better than the Chiefs offensive coordinater Charlie Weis, which could pay off big during the 2011 NFL draft. As a true fresham, Floyd had two catches for 17 yards in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in 2008. In 2009 (playing opposite of Golden Tate who currently plays for the Seattle Seahawks) Floyd had seven catches for 131 yards and one touchdown in a game against the Michigan Wolverines, but left the game after he suffered a cut on his knee requiring 15 stitches.
Then Floyd suffered a shoulder injury in the next game against the Michigan State Spartans, which would prevent him from playing in five of Notre Dame’s 12 games that year. He would return from that injury and record a total of nine receiving touchdowns and almost 800 receiving yards in just seven games of action under then-quarterback Jimmy Clausen (Carolina Panthers). And, five of those seven games were 100-yard receiving games. Nonetheless, this year Floyd already has 44 receptions for 624 yards with six touchdowns. And for his college career he has 163 receptions for 2,138 yards with 22 touchdowns. Floyd is predicted to be a first rounder in the 2011 NFL draft, so let’s hope that he is still on the board when it’s the Chiefs turn to pick. Floyd runs a 4.4 40-yard dash.
Considering that the Kansas City Chiefs will make the playoffs this year, we may have the 20th pick in next year’s draft. I believe that at least five receivers will go in the first round, and maybe another five in the second round. In addition to this, the Chiefs may have to trade up in order to get one of these exciting wide outs. And knowing Scott Pioli, we may trade someone the fans want to keep, in an attempt to grab a big play receiver from this group. Stay tuned for the next round of five wide receivers to come out of next year’s phenominal draft class.