Position evaluation: Jeremy Maclin anchors Chiefs WR corps

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The Kansas City Chiefs finally washed away the no-receiver touchdowns during the 2015 season with 12 touchdowns by receivers.

The position saw much needed upgrades, but there is still work to be done.

Dec. 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver Albert Wilson (12) during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Dec. 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver Albert Wilson (12) during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

JEREMY MACLIN: The former Missouri Tiger provided the Chiefs with eight more receiving touchdowns than they had the prior season. Maclin’s presence in the offense quickly showed on tape with safeties and corners respecting his over-the-top speed.

The seventh-year veteran developed a very good chemistry with quarterback Alex Smith and earned trust during the first portion of the season. Smith and Maclin were on the same page with sight adjustments based on voids in the coverage by Week 8.

Maclin runs crisp routes, is fearless over the middle and competes for every pass thrown his way.

JASON AVANT: The 10th-year veteran’s impact on the offense didn’t show up on the stat sheet with only 15 receptions, but his presence could be seen on most plays.

Avant did the dirty work of setting picks, performing blocks on screens and manipulating coverages to help teammates find open space. But the athletic ability of Avant continued to show a decrease throughout the season and he appeared to be nearing the end.

Avant refused to let his career end on a sour note with four crucial catches that helped keep the Chiefs season alive in New England. He is a relentless worker that understands the craft of playing receiver, but it appears time might be catching up with his body.

ALBERT WILSON: The second-year receiver saw his receptions double from 16 in 2014 to 35 in 2015 and he had an opportunity to take a big step forward in claiming the second receiver spot.

Unfortunately, some of the flaws in Wilson’s game showed up throughout the season. The former Georgia State Panther appeared to struggle with finding a second gear on deep routes and tracking the football out of his break on the long ball.

Wilson shined on short to intermediate routes such as slants, crosses and dig routes, but he finds trouble on go routes, double moves and deep post. The undrafted free agent will likely find the most success in the Chiefs offense as a slot receiver.

CHRIS CONLEY: Conley showcased great speed for his size during the offseason program and training camp.

The third-round pick struggled to see considerable snaps early on in the season, but made a majority of initial impact as the gunner on special teams. The former Georgia Bulldog has the skillset to succeed in the NFL, but will need to improve his ability to read coverages and help out his quarterback after he is flushed from the pocket.

DE’ANTHONY THOMAS: The former fourth-round pick appeared to be headed for an increased role in the 2015 season before a concussion cut his season short. Thomas only saw 172 of the 989 offensive snaps this season.

He showed promise with his route running during offseason practices and training camp but the snaps never appeared to materialize during the season. Thomas will need to have a big impact in 2016.

FRANKIE HAMMOND Jr.: Hammond saw 61 of his 67 snaps on special teams and his offensive snaps went from 246 in 2014 down to six in 2015. The former Florida Gator appears to lack explosiveness as a returner and receiver.

ALSO ON ROSTER: Da’Ron Brown, Fred Williams, Kenny Cook, Kashif Moore

OUTLOOK: Conley and Wilson’s performances in the New England arguably showed the Chiefs need an additional veteran at the position while the two young wide receivers continue to develop.

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Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.

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