Legion of Zoom: Where do things stand with Chiefs wide receivers?
The season is still three weeks away, which is just enough time to discover new talents during the preseason games. The battle for a spot on the roster as a wideout is raging. It is one of the most interesting battles in the AFC right now.
With their victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, some of the Chiefs’ new players have already had the opportunity to show their best assets.
Behind Tyreek Hill, the obvious number one at the wide receiver position, and Watkins, at number two, many others are battling to get the next best spot. And to say the least, the room is very much crowded.
DeMarcus Robinson is pretty much embedded to be at least number three at the position, but many other players with varying skills could bring new weapons to this already killer offense or “Legion of Zoom,” the new nickname of the offense led by MVP Patrick Mahomes.
These guys are competing not only for a job, but also for playing time in the regular season. Some of the names are Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Marcus Kemp, Gehrig Dieter, and Cody Thompson.
So let’s break it down, shall we?
Hardman has the same profile as Tyreek Hill, who is very speedy and impactful. Hardman’s touchdown against the Bengals just showed how much he could achieve with some more playing time and trust during the regular season.
Hardman doesn’t have Hill’s change-of-direction ability, but his speed is almost to the same level. Right now, Hardman is set to be an extremely dangerous weapon in a very quick offense, a weapon who can disrupt defenses horizontally and vertically.
Pringle is another dynamic young wide receiver who is pushing hard to get his spot of sunshine. Many have seen a big improvement in his game during training camp, and the former K-State star wide receiver is a real potential vertical threat.
However, another trait of character struck his peers: Pringle is positive, energetic and determined. And that might lead him to the top. His athleticism makes him very dangerous, especially battling against cornerbacks, although his speed is a level lower than Hardman’s.
Another player who could be in that group is Gehrig Dieter, but unfortunately, he has been out with an injury lately. He may have missed out on a chance to earn one of the final roster spots because of a lingering back issue.
Dieter made the practice squad two years ago and was promoted to the active roster in the middle of 2018. This year, he could have a chance to take the next step. Let’s see what happens to him.
Kemp has been a special teams player during the last couple of Chiefs regular seasons. His skills as a wide receiver have been developing slowly but surely. And surprisingly enough, he was still at training camp with the Chiefs this year.
He has a very different profile, as Kemp shines blocking or producing yards after the catch when there isn’t any other option on the field. His knowledge of the playbook, given his years with Coach Reid and the Chiefs, could also be an advantage compared to younger players.
Cody Thompson comes from a strong special teams background in college (Toledo). He could bring some competition to Marcus Kemp.
Thompson is an excellent route runner with a great combination of size and change-of-direction ability. On a team full of speed and deep threat opportunities, Thompson provides an interesting different option.
“The Legion of Zoom” is already a “thing.” The Chiefs have come a long way since 2014, when they concluded an entire regular season without a single touchdown reception by a receive.
Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle appear to be the readiest to help the team on the offense. But Andy Reid is known to be very creative with his offenses, so he could reserve some surprises along the way. One sure thing is this regular season will be fun to watch.