Is Richie James Exactly What The Chiefs Need?
By: Justin Miles (@justm1les/x)
En route to their Week 1 loss, Kansas City’s wide receiver room fell short of the expectations that were set. This poor showing, comes as a result of a few different factors. One of the largest factors being the absence of Travis Kelce. Kelce being a gametime decision forced the offense to change their scheme with very little time to prepare. Another big factor was costly errors, such as drops. While this game had some very frustrating moments, it is important to remember it was just Week 1 and these issues will undoubtedly get resolved.
Even with a less than ideal Week 1 performance, this wide receiver room is still full of talented athletes who can make plays at any given time. Kelce is anticipated to make his season debut this upcoming week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even with Kelce’s return, all eyes are on the team, patiently waiting for someone to emerge as a consistent weapon.
The beauty of this roster, lies in the fact that there are several different players who could be the number one target if given the opportunity. Most people are expecting Kadarius Toney or Skyy Moore to embrace the role as leader of the core. However, I have a dark horse pick for someone who may emerge as the top dog.
Newly acquired receiver, Richie James Jr is one of the most athletically gifted players on this roster. Aside from a history with multiple different injuries, James has everything you look for in a receiver and more. He possesses the skills and qualities necessary to become a star in this league.
Richie entered the league in 2018 coming from Middle Tennessee State, where he broke the receiving records in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. At the combine, James recorded a 40 yard dash time of 4.48 and a vertical jump of 35.5″. A college career like his matched with the athleticism showcased at the combine was more than enough to turn heads before coming into the league.
Since then, Richie has spent four years in the league prior to this one. In that time, he has played in 58 games and rallied 96 catches for 1,264 yards and 7 touchdowns. Throughout this, he managed 6.03 yards after the catch, per catch. Throughout this time, quarterbacks have earned a 102.4 passer rating when targeting Richie.
James had a great preseason and many were very excited to see what he does with the new team. However, in Week 1, James played just 36% of offensive snaps and tallied just a single catch for six yards. However, this is likely in part due to spending most of the week on the team’s injury report while battling a knee injury.
While these numbers may not be jumping off of the chart, they show high promise for James’ future. Not only does he have the skills to get open and make the catch, but he also has the ability to make plays once the ball is in his hands. Richie contains excellent athleticism and plays at a very quick game speed. Even despite being a little undersized standing at 5’9″, James plays very tough and aggressive, even against bigger opponents. James also now has a few years of experience and brings a veteran presence to the locker room and onto the field. His veteranship makes him a very smart player with excellent situational awareness.
When taking a look at the numbers and the film, it becomes very apparent James is more than ready to be a WR1. His upside and potential is unlike any other.
He has been able to accomplish great things through to this point in his career. However, he is now playing for one of the best coached teams in the league and has the best quarterback in football throwing to him, so it is hard to not think he will do even better things in KC. With the return of Kelce amongst all of the other playmakers on the team, defenses will have a very difficult time game planning against the Chiefs (even more so than usual). Taking this into consideration even more so holds the point that Richie James may very well soon step into a huge role for the Chiefs. If healthy, don’t be surprised if James soon begins turning heads, and in a rapid fashion.
Regardless, the team is full of many playmakers and many different players will step into huge roles over the next few weeks. Kansas City will be fine and will be back on track before fans realize it. Chiefs Kingdom should be very excited for this group of pass catchers. But keep an eye out for Richie James!