With two preseason games under their belt and only one more to go, Daurice Fountain has been the star of Chiefs receiver group. Does he have what it takes to make it through the final round of cuts?
For the past four seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs have notoriously been a threat in the passing game. Mostly due to Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. That trio has been the foundation that has brought this team to three consecutive AFC Championship game appearances, back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and the Super Bowl LIV title.
However, the three-headed monster of Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce has hardly even been noticeable this year in the preseason. Patrick Mahomes has gone 11 for 20 for 82 yards and no touchdowns. He even has one interception. Travis Kelce has only caught two passes for 12 yards and Tyreek Hill has only caught one pass for five yards. Don’t worry, I’m not saying there is a problem here. I am plenty confident that those three will get things going on the right track come week one.
Absences, though, from playmakers like Hill and Kelce have opened the door for other players to shine. One of those players has been receiver Daurice Fountain. Fountain has led the team in receptions and yards by grabbing seven balls for 91 yards. He has great size at 6’ 2, 210 pounds, and has also been a standout at camp. In 2018, Fountain had an impressive pro day at Northern Iowa when he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and had a 42.5-inch vertical jump. Those numbers earned him a fifth-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts. After bouncing back and forth from the roster to the practice squad in Indianapolis, the Kansas City Chiefs finally inked him for a one-year deal this past offseason. Since then, Fountain has made the most of it and is literally praying for this opportunity.
The same cannot be said for veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. Robinson is entering his sixth season with the Chiefs and has always seemed hit and miss with his opportunities given. More recently, he was given the opportunity to try his hand at returning punts. Unfortunately, it does not sound like special teams coach Dave Toub is much of a fan.
“He drives me nuts,” Toub said Tuesday. “He really does, to be honest, and he knows it.
“I’d like to see him catch it and keep the ball tight to his body, and he doesn’t do that. I’d like to see him get north and south; he doesn’t do that. So those are the things that we talk about all the time.”
That is a lot of things that Robinson “doesn’t do” and those are not things you want to hear from a coach right before final cutdowns. Sure, this is speaking about his skills as a return man and not a receiver but what does he do that well as a receiver? In 80 games, Robinson is averaging less than 18 yards a game. Sure, as a number four receiver that is probably normal, but he started in almost half of those games because of injuries to other receivers. That should have resulted in more opportunities, but he still only has 1.5 catches per game for his career.
I could see a guy like Fountain earning more opportunities in that spot. If the Chiefs decide to only keep five receivers, then that could be a tough decision for Andy Reid and company. They will likely keep at least six though, but you also must think about a guy like Cornell Powell who the Chiefs spent a fifth-round draft pick on this past April. That is a serious investment for a guy who has a higher ceiling than Demarcus Robinson right now. Even though Powell hasn’t had the best preseason, letting him walk would be highly unlikely.
Currently, at the receiver position for the Chiefs, there are only a couple of certainties: Tyreek Hill is by far the number one guy, and the team is ready for Mecole Hardman to prove his worth now that Sammy Watkins is gone. After that, everything else is up for grabs. Guys like Daurice Fountain know that. I’m not quite sure Demarcus Robinson does. Another receiver that is on the bubble is Marcus Kemp, who is entering his fifth season with the Chiefs as a roster bubble guy. Kemp has also had a strong camp and can do big things on special teams.
Whatever the Chiefs decide to do at the receiver position, they will need to have it done by August 31st. That is when all NFL clubs must have their 53-man roster finalized.