The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dexter McCluster in the second round of the 2010 draft, hoping he would become a Swiss army knife of sorts. The diminutive speedster seemed to have all the quickness and agility anyone could ask for, but the question was where to play him? Two years later, Kansas City still hadn't figured out the answer.
Fast forward to 2012 training camp, and it seems the Chiefs have finally pegged him as a slot receiver. McCluster has embraced the role and in his first preseason game looked terrific with three catches in less than a quarter.
The question is what to expect going into the regular season?
Negative: McCluster has been raved about by media and fans alike in camp, but that seems to be a recurring theme. He's the type of player that draws ooo's and ahh's from the crowd, but in a game hasn't been able to do the same consistently.
Best known for literally breaking sneakers, McCluster's best moment came on a scintillating punt return of 94 yards against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately that was a long time ago. The potential seems to be there, but at this point it's only been displayed in flashes.
Positive: McCluster was never used correctly by Todd Haley. Last season, McCluster's stats actually were very respectable, with 844 yards from scrimmage. The problem remained though; McCluster wasn't a force but merely a change of pace.
With his unique blend of moves and speed, the Ole Miss product should be a terror to opposing defenses, much like Darren Sproles. Kansas City should have him moved all over the field, but stick him at one position and let him learn it. In other words, don't blame McCluster for his perceived shortcomings early on, it's more about the way he was deployed.
My Take: Under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, McCluster is going to have a big year.
Finally settled into a role, McCluster can fully master a position and become dominant at it. The biggest concern will be his health. At 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, the NFL isn't a safe place for the receiver. However if he can stay on the field, McCluster can be the ultimate screen, bubble, quick out safety valve for Matt Cassel to utilize.
In his rookie season, McCluster only had 280 yards from scrimmage before jumping to the aforementioned 844. I expect around the same production, but it to be done from the receiver position. It will seem like a much larger impact because he'll be moving the chains and picking up yardage in bigger chunks.
Daboll seems to have taken a liking to McCluster, and for good reason. He's a rare talent and someone who in the right system, can be a serious weapon.
Considering Kansas City can throw to Jon Baldwin, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Tony Moeaki among others, the defenses can't focus on McCluster, making him all the more of a lethall threat. There isn't a linebacker in the world who can match up with him.
I expect around 50 catches for 650-700 yards and around five touchdowns, with 100 or so rushing yards mixed in on reverses and things of that nature.
McCluster is entering his third year, it's time to make his presence felt.