With NFL free agency winding down, and the NFL draft over, it is time to begin looking towards the regular season once again. With that, we look forward to players who will jump and take on bigger roles with the Chiefs. For some it can take years, for others they are stars by the end of their rookie season. So, who will make that jump this year?
Breakout likelihood: 6/10
There is not a single player I look forward to seeing in an expanded role within the Chiefs offense than Skyy Moore. It is well known that rookie WRs don’t get many opportunities within the Andy Reid offense. Even Tyreek Hill was delegated to special team duties for the better part of his first few years in the league. Skyy Moore may not have gotten many opportunities to shine last year, but he made the most of the ones he did get.
Skyy Moore with the toe-drag 🔥pic.twitter.com/jKWxntMq8R
— Brad Henson Productions (@BradHensonPro) August 13, 2022
Skyy is entering his second year with the prime opportunity to step in as the starting slot WR, and could easily eclipse 1,000 yards with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball. Skyy excels at creating early separation and can give Mahomes an easy first read, and despite his size, Skyy is pretty crafty after the catch too. With Juju gone, we could see Skyy step in as the go-to short-yardage guy, but he may have to compete with rookie Rashee Rice in that role. However, as mentioned, Reid isn’t the biggest fan of playing rookies, meaning Skyy should get his shot, and he may just run with it.
Breakout Likelihood 5/10
Moving to the defensive side of the ball, two names stand out. George Karlaftis, and Bryan Cook. While I love Karlaftis unrelenting nature, I still think he will be too raw to have a true breakout year, and he may be a name to look forward to in year 3. Bryan Cook, on the other hand, is someone I can see having an incredible year 2. With the departure of Juan Thornhill, Cook will have plenty of chances to do what he does best, lay the hit stick.
Bryan Cook HITTING pic.twitter.com/1zWP6LNN6T
— EDDIE HIGH (@EddieHigh) August 13, 2022
Cook isn’t a guy who is known for his coverage ability as a safety, but he does have a sneaky athletic upside. However, he may not need to be in coverage to make an impact. Spags loves his safety blitzes and Cook can excel as a run-stuffer as well. I put this breakout potential as a 5/10 because while I believe in Cook, we also just haven’t gotten to see him much. With the addition of Mike Edwards, Cook will have to prove he deserves to be on the field.
Breakout Likelihood 4/10
Let me just make this clear, the only reason Noah Gray isn’t higher than a 4/10 on the breakout scale is that the Chiefs still have Travis Kelce playing at an all-pro level. If Kelce retired this offseason and Noah was entering this season as TE1, I would likely have him at around an 8/10, and even that may be too low.
This Noah Gray catch from Patrick Mahomes isn't being talked about enough! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/A9GYSNmQ92
— Brad Henson Productions (@BradHensonPro) May 12, 2023
Noah Gray has made strides every year he’s been in the NFL. TE is one of the toughest positions to adjust to the NFL game, and Noah has proven he has the capacity to grow. In his first season, he had only 36 receiving yards. This year he multiplied that by almost 10, finishing with 299 yards. He is still splitting time with Jody Fortson and Blake Bell, but I believe this year we will see a lot more of Noah.
The biggest indication of the Chiefs’ faith in Gray was that they didn’t draft a single TE in a class that was hailed as one of the deepest TE draft classes in decades if not ever. Kelce isn’t getting any younger, and will likely play fewer snaps as the Chiefs hope to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Which of the Chiefs’ TEs is best suited to fill in for Travis Kelce? The answer is clearly Noah Gray. Fortson is great in 50/50 ball situations, and Blake Bell is almost exclusively a blocker. Don’t be surprised if Noah Gray ends up with over 500 yards this season, and a handful of touchdowns.