Discover more from The Chief in the North Newsletter
Know your Chiefs wide receiver draft crush, the finale: Rankings, tiers, and what it all means
Looking at the different WR tiers, where I'd rank the players reviewed, and discussing how I'd approach the draft from a weapons acquisition standpoint if I were Brett Veach
This final edition of “know your WR draft crush” is unlocked for all, because happy draft! If you want to have access to the rest of the series, the film reviews that will follow the draft, and of course the hundreds of other articles in the archives going beyond the box score, you can do so for $12 a year by clicking the button below.
We did it!
Weeks ago, I set out to review as many wide receivers as possible for this season’s “know your draft crush series. I put together a list of names based on the prospects that were most often requested and churned through their film, trying to get an idea as to what they bring to the table and how they fit with the Chiefs. You can look at each player by clicking on their name here, if you missed any of them:
It’s worth noting that Skyy Moore, a fan favorite, was not reviewed. The simple reason was that there wasn’t enough all-22 or even “Moore vs” broadcast snaps available to give a real idea what he can do. If the Chiefs draft him, I’ll figure it out, but for now, I have failed you all. As a bonus to make up for this egregious sin against you, dear reader, I went ahead and looked at some snaps by John Metchie III, and we’ll add him to the group (as a dude who absolutely knows how to get open).
Today is the day where the “what” meets the “now what.” We’ve looked at pretty much all of the top prospects at wide receiver, and we know the Chiefs have a need there. But what should Veach do with that information? How do the receivers stack up? Who are the best fits? What is the difference between the best wide receiver and the 6th best wide receiver? All of these things need to be taken into account before figuring out how to move forward in a draft that carries significant importance for the Chiefs as they start to enter the Second Mahomes Era.
So here’s the basic idea… I’ll be placing the receivers into tiers, explaining what is meant by each tier and why each receiver ended up there. Then I’ll give out a few awards for the players reviewed (most dominant, most underrated, etc). Then I’ll talk about what I’d do if I were Brett Veach.
Let’s have some fun, starting with the Tiers. Before we start, it’s worth noting that all the guys we’ve looked at are highly touted prospects. So being in a lower tier of this group is not an insult. There are only 2 players I wouldn’t draft within the first 3 rounds if I were KC (that’s what happens when your group is the 12-13 best receivers in the class). So keep that in mind before you yell at me in the comments. And remember, the reviews for all of these players can be found by clicking their names in the list above!
Tier 1: The “go and get ‘em” group
What this Tier means: This is the group I would be fine with the Chiefs trading up a little ways to get (late teens, early 20’s), or be absolutely thrilled if they were taken at the end of the first round.
Tier members: Drake London, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams.
These are my three favorite wide receivers in the draft, and what is fun about them is that they each win in unique ways.
London is a spectacularly dominant catch-point receiver who makes 50/50 balls more like 90/10 balls with incredible consistency, while having just enough athleticism to win on ins/slants/comebacks. Williams is an electric athlete with speed that changes defenses, and knows how to use it at all levels of the field. Olave is an exceptional route runner who shows remarkable grasp of where holes are in zone while consistently sends cornerbacks stumbling/moving the wrong way while he’s already making cuts.
These three guys look like players who are the most sure thing to make an immediate impact and alter the way defenses can play the Chiefs. There’s no wrong answer here for who your favorite would be, although I have a strange preference for London (strange in that he’s a different skillset than what I normally like).
Tier 2: The “I’d take that dude” group
What this Tier means: These are the players I’d be perfectly happy with the Chiefs taking in the first round with their 29th or 30th pick.
Tier members: George Pickens, John Metchie III, Garrett Wilson
Pickens, as most people know after reading his review, was one of my favorites in this class. He’s got a high ceiling as a solid athlete but is also very technically sound in his approach in a way that looks like it’ll translate at the next level. Not a lot of players with his size/length can run routes the way he does. Wilson, in the meantime, is a receiver that doesn’t necessarily excel at any one thing but is very good at virtually everything (except maybe being a contested catch guy). He doesn’t have many real weaknesses and has a smoothness at the top of routes that allows him to be a very dangerous intermediate and deep threat.
Metchie snuck up on me at the absolute last minute as a player I only examined because of the absence of Skyy Moore film (and I haven’t done an official review on… don’t worry, I will if they draft him!), but I think he belongs in this tier and isn’t getting enough hype. He’s more athletic than he gets credit for, has great short-area quickness, and runs really solid routes while being a tough player. He might be one of the most pro-ready receivers in the draft.
The good news for the Chiefs is that one of these guys SHOULD be available late in the first.
Tier 3: The “grab him early in the 2nd before it’s too late” group
What this Tier means: This is the one player (outside of the top 2 tiers) I would advise the Chiefs to trade up for in the 2nd round, and be absolutely thrilled if they grabbed him with the picks they already have there.
Tier members: Jalen Tolbert
Tolbert became one of my favorite players in this draft, and really the only reason he’s not a tier higher is the quality of competition concerns in terms of how well what he showed in college will translate on film. Tolbert has excellent speed/acceleration for a guy with his size, and he combines that with a physical style of play that can really give cornerbacks problems. I think he has an outside shot at being the best receiver in this draft, and that’s not hyperbole.
(HEY… if you’re enjoying this, you should really click the button below to become a full-fledged subscriber for 12 bucks a year, and get all the coverage throughout the season and beyond, from reviewing every Patrick Mahomes snap every week to charting multiple games of Orlando Brown to diving deep into Justin Reid’s film. Do it. Do it!!)
Tier 4: The 2nd rounders
What this Tier means: These are the players I’d be fine with the Chiefs taking if they fell to their second round picks as they exist.
Tier members: Treylon Burks, Christian Watson
This group is all about upside. Burks is a player who doesn’t have ideal quickness/agility to succeed at the NFL, but spent his collegiate career largely dominating guys who were quicker than him. He’s a risk with those limitations, but it’s hard to argue with the sort of production he showed and his ability to play well against high levels of competition.
Christian Watson is the exact OPPOSITE sort of upside. He’s got low levels of production against low quality of competition, but his athleticism is off the charts and he’s at least appeared to be able to do the things you want to see at the NFL level. But there’s no way of knowing. He could be an incredible receiver or a guy who does absolutely nothing, and it feels like there’s little in between.
The upside makes both of these guys intriguing in the 2nd, but the risk is huge as well.
Tier 5: The “yes, buts”
What this Tier means: These are the players I’d be fine with the Chiefs taking if they fell to their third round picks as they exist, and each have some good traits but a weak spot that limits their upside.
Tier members: Alec Pierce, Jahan Dotson
Pierce is a fun player to watch. He’s got great acceleration and top-end speed, along with good ball skills to go along with his size, that make him a very dangerous deep threat out of the gate. His “yes, but” is that he seems a little stiff when making cuts and there’s a question as to whether he could grow into a more varied receiver. Definitely a role to be had, but it could be limited.
Dotson is almost exactly the opposite. He’s an exceptional route runner who has a knack for finding open zones, similar to the much-more-highly-regarded Olave. He’s also a very tough player who will compete across the middle and will fight to catch anything within reach.
The problem for him is that, at least on film, he’s got some limitations as an athlete that make me wonder what his ceiling is and if he’ll ever be able to threaten defenses over the top.
If the Chiefs grabbed either of them as a 3rd rounder I think it would be a fine addition, but those concerns limit them a bit.
Tier 6: The flyers
What this Tier means: These are the players I wouldn’t take before the 4th round, and even then I’d probably pass until later on as a flyer.
Tier members: David Bell, Calvin Austin III
This is another pair with completely opposite-end issues. Bell is a good route runner who has solid hands and the ability to fight through contact. However, he was one of the more limited athletes I reviewed, if not the most limited, and I have doubts as to his ability to be a full-time contributor at the pro level.
Austin is tremendously fast and tremendously quick, but his size makes him an outlier in terms of likelihood to succeed in the pros (he’s an inch shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Tyreek Hill). That’s a near-certainty to limit his role and ways he can win.
Best fit for Kansas City- Chris Olave (I think everyone knew this)
Most Dominant Player- Drake London
Highest Ceiling- Jameson Williams
Most Fun to Watch- Drake London (again)
Most Overrated- Garrett Wilson (good player, but not close to WR1 in my opinion)
Most Underrated- Jalen Tolbert
If I were Brett Veach…
So, now we have a lot of information. What do we do with it as the Chiefs’ general manager?
I think the most important thing I found, in watching all of these prospects, is that while this draft doesn’t necessarily have the absolute surefire S-T-U-D-S at the top the way some other drafts have, what is does have is some early depth… to an extent. What I discovered is that there are 6 wide receivers I’d be happy with the Chiefs taking late in the first round, and another 3 I’d be fine with (or thrilled) in the second round). After that, there are some players with good traits but more questions.
What I’m saying is I’m not sure there’s such a gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 that it’s worth moving heaven and earth to get a wide receiver. HOWEVER, there’s a rather definitive dropoff in my opinion from Tier 3 to Tier 4 in terms of how hopeful I’d be in a high-level producer, and an even bigger dropoff from Tier 4 to Tier 5.
In other words, if the Chiefs want to grab a wide receiver, they need to get in there before the second “run” of receivers starts. They can survive one run of 4-5 guys being gone (say London, Olave, Williams, Wilson, and Burks based on what we think we know about how teams view guys) and still have some really good options in Pickens, Metchie, and Tolbert, as well as a high ceiling option in Watson. If another run takes those guys… then you’re in a significantly worse spot.
So here’s how I would play it if I were Veach. I would absolutely not trade up until the early 20’s (maybe New England at 21, to jump WR-needy Green Bay?), and only then do so if one of the “big 3” drops to that point. Given that we’re not totally sure as to how teams view this class, there’s at least a chance one of them is there.
Otherwise, I think the Chiefs would be smart to stand pat at 29 and take Pickens or Metchie (or one of the other Tier 1/2 guys who are available). If none of them are there, then if I were the Chiefs I’d grab a pair of defenders and see how the second round plays out, grabbing Tolbert if he gets within striking range of a tradeup. In that scenario, I think they’d be wise to consider double dipping at wide receiver in the 3rd round as well. With MVS and JuJu on short-term deals, they need to replenish the well there and should do so in a draft with some intriguing pieces.
Everyone knows I’m a “double down on Patrick Mahomes and the offense” guy, so if I were Veach I’d go in looking to absolutely RELOAD on offense by going receiver twice in the first 3 rounds. In a dream scenario, they manage to grab something like Olave and Pierce, or Pickens/Tolbert (PHEW).
Thanks for taking this journey through our draft crushes! Here’s hoping this week is as much fun as reviewing these players has been.
Oh, and hey, if you haven’t… subscribe. Post-draft will be great, but we’ve got a lot of film (Jody Fortson, Trey Smith, L’Jarius Sneed, and a lot more) to churn through before training camp. Make sure you don’t miss any of it.