The Three Chiefs Players Who Must Step Up In 2016

The Kansas City Chiefs made the playoffs last season and beat the Houston Texans in the wild card round before falling to the New England Patriots. The Chiefs have their sights set on returning to the playoffs and making a deeper run this year, but will need a few players to step up for that to happen. Here are the 3 Chiefs players who must step up in 2016. 

3. Chris Conley, WR

The Chiefs have Jeremy Maclin as reliable weapon at WR, but that's about it. The presence of RB Jamaal Charles and TE Travis Kelce helps make up for the lack of real weapons at the position, but QB Alex Smith needs more than a bunch of also-rans at the position. That means the teams needs Conley to step up in 2016. Conley struggled early, but showed improvement as the season went along. A third round pick in last year's draft, the Chiefs need Conley to develop into another weapon that the team can actually use. Jason Avant and Albert Wilson can't be starting next year; the Chiefs need Conley to take that role. 

2. Phillip Gaines, CB

The Chiefs have Marcus Peters locked into one starting CB spot after an impressive rookie season. But the other CB spot is wide-open with the loss of Sean Smith to the Raiders. While several players could win the starting job, Gaines is the one that Chiefs likely want to win the job. A third round pick out of Rice in 2014, Gaines played in just two full games last season because of a torn ACL. He showed promise near the end of his 2014 season and the Chiefs need him to recover and take over that starting role. The options at CB for Kansas City aren't great, so they need Gaines to take the starting job unless they plan on drafting a player early. 

1. Dee Ford, OLB

Ford was a first round pick in the 2014 draft, but hasn't played very well in the limited snaps he's had. The presence of Tambi Hali and Justin Houston, one of the best pass rushing combos in the NFL, means that the Chiefs haven't really need Ford to step up. That changes this year. Houston could miss part of the season torn ACL, leaving the Chiefs without one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Ford will need to pick up most of the slack. Although no one expects Ford to play like Houston, he must do a better job of getting the QB next season. Even if Houston is ready to play early in the season, the time is now for Ford to play like a first round pick. 

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