Chiefs Players Under the Radar

The Chiefs’ 2019 offseason has felt like the day before a big family holiday. The majority of the packing is finished as Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid are already in the suitcase. However we can’t escape that inevitable feeling that something is missing.

Bringing on board Tyrann Mathieu and Bashaud Breeland was similar to the realisation that we haven’t packed enough sun cream. Do you remember how badly the secondary got burnt on the last holiday?

The Tyreek Hill situation is like one of your children losing their passport just before the flight. Will he still be able to go on holiday with us? Are we going to have to completely delay the trip? Who knows.

For something that’s meant to be one of the most enjoyable times of year it sure does take a lot of meticulous planning to ensure that everything goes smoothly; and with all of that planning there’s bound to be a piece of clothing or two that you’ve buried at the bottom of the suitcase and completely forgotten about. That is until you unpack it when you arrive at the hotel and remember how much you loved that dress or pair of shorts.

That’s exactly where I come in; to remind you that the Chiefs have a few hidden gems deeper on the depth chart that you may have forgotten about. Despite all of the drama and big moves that have surrounded Kansas City this offseason I feel like there are also a couple of guys who aren’t being talked about enough and may turn a few heads once football returns to our TV screens in September.

Gehrig Dieter – WR

Dieter has been a Chief since 2017 when he was signed as an undrafted free agent. He joined the Chiefs’ active roster in November 2018 after being on the practise squad for the first year and a half.

Despite this, Dieter still had plenty of exposure in the preseason where he played in all 8 games in 2017 and 2018 (totalling 9 catches for 108 yards). It was in week 2 of the 2018 preseason where Dieter also scored his first NFL touchdown. He showed off his quick footwork at the line of scrimmage before simply burning the Atlanta DB down the left sideline; taking it in for an easy score.

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After being promoted to the active roster Dieter only had 2 catches in 2018, however they weren’t simple checkdowns or small gains. In week 17 he had a big 22 yard grab against the Raiders and in the divisional round against the Colts he slipped a couple of tackles to pick up a first down.

Dieter has come a long way in his short NFL career; battling his way to an active roster spot after being branded as an “over-aged prospect” coming out of Alabama in 2017. It’s for that reason that I think these stats show promise and an ability to grow.

Dieter is also in a very favourable position to prove himself in 2019. With Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins almost certainly filling the top 2 spots, the WR3 position is very much up for grabs. Chris Conley has gone to Jacksonville which leaves 3 viable options: Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman or Gehrig Dieter. In my opinion I feel like Hardman is a very raw talent at this stage and, training camp may prove me wrong, but I couldn’t see him beating out both Robinson and Dieter straight away for the number 3 job.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who’s going to step up once camp starts next week but there is a good chance that Dieter is given a bigger role in 2019. From what I’ve seen of him so far I think he’s got what it takes to be a consistent receiver at the pro level. Despite only making 2 catches, in meaningful games, last season there were also a few off-ball flashes that show promise; he was overthrown in week 13 against the Raiders and also got himself wide open on one play against the Ravens that was completely missed by Mahomes (if you can believe that).

Off the field he’s also build up quite the relationship with fellow Chiefs players. Dieter, Mahomes, Kelce, Robinson and Conley recently went on holiday together to the Turks and Caicos islands where they trained on the beach and went on a pretty wholesome fishing trip. That’s definitely one way to build some chemistry with your fellow team mates!

However it’s not the first time Mahomes and the third year receiver have been friendly with each other in the public eye. After being overthrown by him in week 13, Dieter joked about Mahomes in a post-match interview claiming that “I feel like if you’re an MVP candidate in this league then you should be able to hit a wide open receiver running down the field.” Mahomes, of course, retaliated in a later interview claiming that Dieter had stolen his haircut.

If they can transfer this connection to the field they may just turn into quite the duo in 2019, so keep your eyes peeled for Dieter!

Carlos Hyde – RB

Damien Williams is likely to be the starting running back in 2019, and that’s from the horse’s mouth. Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy announced after Chiefs’ OTAs that: “Damien Williams is our starter… we expect him to excel at that role.”

So you may ask: Why is Carlos Hyde on this list? Well Bieniemy went on to say in the same interview: “We also understand the importance of coaching our back up players to take their job and be ready when that opportunity presents itself.”

Building a competitive environment, especially in one-man positions like QB and RB, are essential to making a stronger team. Hyde has already proved himself as a consistent power back who could explode at anytime, so having this competition could bring out the best in both players.

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On top of this, I really like the sound of a ‘1-2 punch’ between Williams and Hyde. Whilst Hyde has that freight train brute force, Williams brings that elusiveness and nimble footwork that he showed off in 2018; if you want to remind yourself of Williams’ talent look at his opening touchdown in the playoff game against the Colts.

The ability to share the ball with Williams, I predict, will play into Hyde’s hands a lot more in 2019. The 28 year old will be turning 29 on 20th September, which is relatively aged for a running back in this era of football. This means that splitting the workload between himself and Williams will allow him to pound the rock without the fear of being overworked.

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When Hyde was voted as the 97th best player in the league in 2018 he was well praised by his colleagues, including Chiefs’s safety Tyrann Mathieu who said: “He’s not looking for fantasy points, he’s looking for someone to run into.” And if that doesn’t perfectly sum up Hyde’s style of play then I don’t know what does.

With Mahomes and Williams dominating the majority of the field for the Chiefs offence next season, you can expect Hyde to rack up big numbers on 3rd downs and red zone pushes. He’s not one to ignore in 2019.

Armani Watts – S

If there’s one position that the Chiefs decided to buy into more than the rest this off season then its at defensive back. Signing Tyrann Mathieu from Houston has been a non-stop talking point for the fan base and his mentality has brought out a new side to the Chiefs’ defence on and off the field.

The Chiefs also drafted safety Juan Thornhill with their 2nd pick in the draft (63rd overall) who has been lapping up the rest of the attention ever since. These 2 are, in a lot of people’s minds, the expected starters in 2019, and it looks like they could develop into quite the duo.

However there’s a lot of depth at the safety position and one guy coming back from injury may just shake things up a little. Armani Watts’ rookie season was cut extremely short due to a groin injury which allowed him to only pad up 5 times.

The 23 year old safety out of Texas A&M was selected by the Chiefs in the 4th round and looked to be a bit of a steal. His combie scores didn’t jump off the page but he showed signs of being a baller in the low number of snaps he had in 2018; the most memorable of these being the huge goal line pass break up against Jacksonville on 4th down.

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His athleticism makes him a very exciting player to watch and he seems to be all over the field. In just five games he racked up five tackles, one sack, two QB hits and a pass breakup; oh and did I mention that he didn’t start any of these games either?

Although Watts has had limited snaps at the pro-level I feel like training camp and the preseason will be a perfect opportunity for Watts to prove that his injury is in the past. If he can get a few people talking in the next couple of weeks then the competition in the locker room may start to take off.

Jordan Lucas – S

Jordan Lucas is on this list for a pretty similar reason to Watts. Amongst all the buzz that’s been surrounding this new-look Chiefs defence I feel like Lucas has been very quiet despite a solid 2018 year.

I feel like number 24 was a thin silver lining in what was a considerably dark cloud for the Chiefs defence last season. He played in all 16 regular season games, starting in four of them, and totalled 32 tackles, one interception, two defended passes and a sack.

This proved him to be a reliable and powerful safety, capable of making a necessary tackle whilst also being able to get up in receivers’ grills at the point of catch and making a play.

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With the safety position pretty stacked as we enter the 2019 season there is sure to be a lot of competition for that starting role alongside Mathieu. Thornhill looks like the favourite, as I said, however I’m not sure how much of that buzz is because he’s a new face and was an early draft pick. He looks like he could make a great pro-level player but I don’t think his starting position is locked in just yet.

This leaves things open for Lucas to make his case to remain on the starting lineup. If he can bring the same energy and performance he had last year (or even turn it up a gear) Lucas may be sticking around for a bit longer on Kansas City’s defence.

Keith Reaser – CB

Now I left this one last because I wasn’t too sure about putting him on the list in the first place. The ex-Chief was unfortunately cut by the team in 2018 and went on to play in the new start-up league ‘the AAF’ where he absolutely balled out. 

In the short-lived season Reaser totalled 3 interceptions (2 of them taken back for a touchdown), 12 solo tackles and 10 passes defended. Now I know that it’s a completely different ball game compared to the NFL but, for 8 games, that’s a pretty hefty statline. Reaser was, arguably, the best defensive player in the AAF and he obviously played well enough to earn him a spot back on an NFL roster.

I’m not expecting him to come back into the league and tear it limb from limb. However, in my opinion, he’s the 5th best cornerback on our depth chart right now, so if he can slip into the final 53 he could have a good shot at being a solid rotational player in 2019.

There’s no doubt that, as a Chiefs’ fan, you’ve spent at least a moment during this off season considering the possibility that 2019 could be our year to win it all. There’s no doubt that we have a huge amount of talent on this roster which will definitely make this season a fun one to watch. 

However American football is one of the most team-orientated sports around and therefore requires the whole roster to work together and get the job done. With that being said, it’s always nice knowing that we have a few guys amongst all the bright lights and mayhem who are ready to step up and be a key role-player in 2019; even if we don’t know it yet.

 

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