I think the Chiefs are fine. Mostly fine.
If it takes multiple drops for Kansas City to lose, that's an encouraging sign for how good Andy Reid's squadron genuinely is. And while drops are typically random, we can't gloss over the fact that the very Chiefs receivers who've been dropping all the passes are going to be the receivers Patrick Mahomes will be slinging rockets to down the stretch and in the playoffs. Not exactly a reliable bunch.
Putting the drops into the correct perspective, depending where you look, the Chiefs lead the NFL in drops. However, Pro Football Focus, which I trust most, has Patrick Mahomes having dealt with 19 drops, which is actually tied for third in football with Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff at the "top" of the league in that category.
We should almost always be looking at rate statistics over counting statistics anyway, and the drop rate for Mahomes passes is currently at 7.0%, high but not astronomically, unprecedentedly high -- it's 7th-highest this season among 26 quarterbacks with at least 250 attempts to date.
So even if the Chiefs drops haven't been quite as brutal as prime-time bias has made them out to be -- they're clearly still an issue for a club with reasonable back-to-back Super Bowl aspirations.
Kansas City's defense is fourth in EPA per play allowed, and they're very healthy entering the post-Thanksgiving stretch run of the regular season as they attempt to get home-field advantage again in the AFC postseason which would guarantee the continuation of Mahomes' incredible streak of not playing a road playoff game.
These pesky drops need to be worked out, because they could be the precise thing that keeps another Super Bowl run from materializing for the Chiefs.
My suggestion besides more JUGS machine work for the Chiefs receiver and tight end rooms -- an elevation of practice squad wideout Cornell Powell, the strapping perimeter wideout Kansas City selected in the fifth round out of Clemson in 2021. He has just one drop in six career preseason outings and a mere four drops on 118 targets against five seasons in college (which equates to a tiny 4.8% drop rate).
And Powell has run two -- yes, two! -- routes in a regular-season game at the NFL level. Give him a chance, Andy! Before Week 12's game against the Raiders! Do it.
Let's quickly pay homage to Practice Squad Power Ranking alums like Saints TE Juwan Johnson, 49ers wideout Jauan Jennings, Buccaneers wideout Deven Thompkins, Seahawks guard Phil Haynes, Cardinals center Hjalte Froholdt, and Giants receiver Isaiah Hodgins (among many others) who have all graduated to become important mainstays on their clubs' respective 53-man rosters and contribute in their own ways each weekend.
As for The CUT, we had a Tariq Castro-Fields elevation before Week 11, and I'm counting Trevor Siemian being called up to the Jets 53-man roster ahead of Black Friday's clash with the Dolphins. So we've reached double digits! Let's keep it rolling in the holiday season.
The expanded, 16-man practice squads are about the only good thing to come out of the pandemic, and they're here to stay in the NFL. Because of this, I run the Practice Squad Power Rankings parallel to the league and write about 16 individuals every Friday, 10 officially in the rankings and six honorable mentions.
Pick Six Newsletter
Crafted By The Best NFL Experts
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Further: To get back to the true origins of the PSPR, which were to highlight young players, I won't be featuring "veterans" this season. Selecting someone like Phillip Dorsett -- currently on the Broncos practice squad -- would not embody the fundamental intention of The PSPR.
So for the sake of the Practice Squad Power Rankings' dignity, I'll only be including practice-squaders who are rookies, second-year players, third-year players or fourth-year pros. Players drafted from 2020 on. That's it.
What I'm asking of you as a loyal PSPR patron -- alert me on X/Twitter @ChrisTrapasso if you see a tweet about a PSPR getting The Call so I can add to The CUT.
10. Sincere McCormick, RB, Raiders
McCormick was THAT DUDE on some super-fun UTSA teams over the past few seasons, and while he didn't test particularly well at the combine, at 5-foot-9 and over 200 pounds, he's cannon-ball of a back with scat-back agility to leave defenders whiffing at air in space. He's the exact type of spark plug the Raiders ground game could use when giving Jacobs a breather.
9. Kyron Brown, CB, Bills
Brown was a late add to the Bills roster during training camp and -- poof! -- he started making plays in practice right away. Then, in the preseason, the former Akron Zip made his presence felt on the 53 exhibition snaps he played. He had five tackles and a pass breakup while only allowing 14 yards on three receptions in his coverage area. With Taron Johnson and Dane Jackson potentially being added to the lengthy list of unavailable Bills defenders due to injury, Brown would be a sensible add ahead of Buffalo's game in Philadelphia.
8. Tariq Carpenter, LB, Steelers
The Steelers have a linebacker issue given the injuries at the position, and Carpenter is a college safety at Georgia Tech turned professional linebacker just sitting idly by on Pittsburgh's practice squad. He played on special teams for the team that drafted him in 2022 -- the Packers -- as a rookie but generated some splash plays in each of the past two preseasons in Green Bay.
7. Raymond Johnson III, EDGE, Lions
Of course, the PSPR were born out of an innate desire to highlight underappreciated players, and it's hard to get more underappreciated than Johnson. A Georgia Southern alum, he's right around 6-2 and 260 pounds and went undrafted in 2021. Since then, he's rocked in three consecutive preseasons with eight pressures in each of them. In 2023, the wins were outrageously good. The Bengals decided against keeping him and, astutely, the Lions jumped on the chance to obtain his services. Johnson simply knows how to beat blockers with calculated pass-rush moves and leveraged power.
6. Matt Landers, WR, Panthers
Carolina needs all the receiving reinforcements it can get, especially after the Laviska Shenault injury. Adam Thielen can't carry the passing offense every week like he has for most of the season. Landers is a field-stretcher with enough power through press coverage to combat physicality at the line. Call him up, Frank. Your offense needs a spark.
5. Tyreke Smith, EDGE, Seahawks
Smith suffered an injury in August of his rookie year after being selected in the fifth round by the Seahawks out of Ohio State. He's a decently long, chiseled advanced rusher -- like most are these days from the Buckeyes program.
Problems with drops curtailed Smith's chance to succeed with the team that drafted him, the Panthers. But he rarely has problems getting open because of his flexibility and sharp change-of-direction skills. He has rather large hands for his smaller frame, which makes me believe drops would be concentration-related, which is fixable. Tennessee is really hurting for another receiver to step up beyond DeAndre Hopkins -- Smith deserves an opportunity. I'd love to see him catch passes from Will Levis.
3. Freddie Swain, WR, Dolphins
With Braxton Berrios and Chase Claypool injured, why not add more speed to the Dolphins offense? I mean, Swain is just a 6-foot, 190-pound wideout with 4.46 speed -- slow on the Dolphins amirite? -- who was a blast to watch during his days at the University of Florida, when he caught 15 touchdowns as a low-volume pass-game option for four seasons.
2. Quincy Roche, EDGE, Vikings
Roche was on the draft radar after his transfer from Temple to Miami and subsequent productive season with the Hurricanes in 2020, when he still generated 36 pressures on 323 pass-rush snaps against elevated competition. While a smaller rusher without a flashy combine workout to point to, Roche wins with a Pro Bowl amount of pass-rush moves and insane flexibility. He pressured the quarterback five times in 16 opportunities in his final preseason showing for the Steelers this summer.
1. Cornell Powell, WR, Chiefs
Powell broke out as a fifth-year senior in 2020 with 41 receptions for 684 yards with five touchdowns for the Tigers, catching passes from Trevor Lawrence. He was a back-shoulder monster -- which he conceivably could be for Mahomes, right?
Williams is a classic, big-bodied, physical boundary wideout who saw a plethora of future NFL cornerbacks in the SEC while at Auburn. While he did flame out at Denver -- with brutal quarterback play there, I must add -- he had seven grabs for 109 yards in the preseason with Jacksonville this August and registered 10 catches for 104 yards with a score with the Broncos in three exhibition games a year ago.
I vividly recall scouting Ojemudia at Iowa, and he felt like the next in an incredibly long line of well-coached future NFL starters from that program. While he never fully materialized into that in Denver, his rookie season wasn't a total waste -- 62 tackles and six pass breakups -- he was injured all last season. In a zone-based role, Ojemudia can return to his Hawkeye roots as a playmaker. At Iowa, he defended 15 passes and had six interceptions in his final two seasons.
Cropper was a tiny, bouncy, big-play waiting to happen at Fresno State in 2022. He had 80-plus grabs in each of his final seasons for the Bulldogs and scored 16 touchdowns. Being that productive of a touchdown-creator at 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds indicates Cropper is a gifted separator. That indication is correct. He's sudden at all three levels.
Rayshad Nichols, DT, Ravens
Nichols is a wide-bodied force on the interior. He just feels like a Ravens defensive tackle. He did miss some tackles in the preseason, but I love his ability to shed blocks and get upfield when needed at 6-foot-3 and 305-310 pounds.
DeWayne McBride, RB, Vikings
After the Cam Akers trade, I lost all hope for McBride being elevated to the Vikings 53-man roster, which, to me, could still use a jolt of fresh rushing talent. Now with Akers lost for the season, that could change. McBride isn't going to hit 90-yard touchdowns, but there are only a select few legitimate game-breakers at the running back position in today's NFL. He's naturally elusive with light feet and sturdy contact balance.
Watkins led all players in receiving yards during the regular season, and I remember him being a blast at UAB. Decently twitchy -- despite a blah workout -- Watkins can eventually contribute for someone this season. He's strong in contested-catch scenarios, too.