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This Chiefs’ Rookie Is Destined To Disappoint In 2022

The Chiefs garnered praise around the league for their fantastic 2022 draft class. In total, the class amounted to ten new players in total with additions at all three major positions of need: wide receiver, defensive end, and cornerback. graded the Chiefs’ class an ‘A’ and ranked it the third-best in the entire NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked the Chiefs’ group as the number two draft class in the NFL this offseason:

“They got Day 1 starters with their first three picks — at three valuable positions. The most intriguing of the bunch is Western Michigan receiver Skyy Moore.”

Following the trade of Tyreek Hill and the subsequent selection of Moore in the draft, the two wide receivers will forever be linked in the franchise history books. Moore has the makings of an excellent wide receiver in the NFL. His talent and physical traits more than garnered an early-round selection. But what are the expectations for him in his rookie campaign?

Despite High Hopes, The Chiefs Don’t Need Moore To Dominate

Without a doubt, Kansas City would love to see their rookie wide receiver take the league by storm next season. An immediate return on investment would be a welcome sight for the Chiefs who currently feature just one receiver under contract past next season. The long-term future of pass catchers for the Chiefs remains uncertain. For those reasons, of course, the team would love to see their rookie dominate out of the gate.

However, that scenario is the most unlikely. As it stands now, Kansas City’s passing attack will center around Travis Kelce and three other wideouts not named Skyy Moore. Juju Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman will compete for the de facto number one role next season. Smith-Schuster, having performed like a top wideout previously and Hardman, entering the season as the WR most familiar with the Reid offense, hopes to take the next leap forward.

Behind those two, Marquez Valdez-Scantling stands to stake his claim to a large share of Patrick Mahomes targets. The Chiefs paid “MVS” on a three-year, $30 million contract this offseason, just a day following the trade of Hill. The former Packer has long been hailed for his blazing speed and size combination. When healthy, his potential is perhaps the highest of any wide receiver on the Kansas City roster. At a minimum, Valdez-Scantling figures to step into a similar market share as former Chief, Sammy Watkins.

With so many already established NFL options ahead of him on the roster, Moore has a tough hill to climb in order to make an impact in his first NFL season. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t factor into the plans for the team’s offensive attack. No, it simply means that he can be afforded the luxury of learning the offense at his own pace with less added pressure.

One Recent Early-Round Chiefs WR Provides Context For Moore

Beyond the current state of the Kansas City depth chart, it’s important to consider what rookie wideouts have done in the past. The team has drafted a wide receiver in the first two rounds of the draft just four times since 2010: Dexter McCluster (2010: Rd Two, 36), Jonathan Baldwin (2011: Rd One, 26), Mecole Hardman (2019: Rd Two, 56), and Moore.

Hardman is the best comparison for what Moore’s role might become, as he’s the only of those early-round wideouts to have played with Mahomes. Many might not remember that Hardman was the number four wide receiver on the depth chart in 2019, behind Hill, Watkins, and Demarcus Robinson. His season-long stat line that season is below:

  1. 16 games, 41 targets, 26 receptions, 538 yards, six touchdowns

Hardman’s 41 targets ranked fifth on the team and fourth among wideouts. Entering 2022, we can expect a similar role from Moore. Excluding injury, he stands to enter the season fifth on the totem pole for targets behind Kelce, Smith-Schuster, Hardman, and Valdez-Scantling. It’s difficult to imagine the wide receiver, regardless of the team’s long-term hopes and plans, leapfrogging the three ahead of him next year.

One major difference between Moore and Hardman can’t be ignored, however: their makeup. Hardman features blazing speed and runs a 4.33 40-yard dash. Entering the NFL, Hardman was a very raw prospect with an ability to take the top off the defense with his blazing speed. He entered the NFL with only two years under his belt as a wide receiver in college. That raw ability has impacted Hardman’s ability to impact at the next level.

Moore, on the other hand, enters the league as a three-year starter in college. He was productive in all three seasons. Instead of relying heavily on blazing speed or raw athletic ability, Moore brings crisp routes and a good football IQ to the position. For these reasons, my 2022 wide receiver projections actually see Moore produce more than Hardman was able to in his rookie season. He should catch on more quickly and impact the offense in a larger variety of ways.

Even still, Skyy Moore doesn’t figure to surpass Hardman or Juju Smith-Schuster in his rookie season. Chiefs fans should be tempering their expectations for him next season, but should still remain optimistic about his long-term outlook.

What are your expectations for Skyy Moore in his rookie campaign? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.

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