From River Falls, Wisconsin
If there were any doubts that the Chiefs have reached a desperate stage in improving their wide receiver group, the signing on Monday of Ashley Lelie should end those.
Pioli/Haley are doing anything and everything they can to increase the talent level, and that includes signing a guy that has played for four different teams in seven seasons. Lelie has been one of the great first-round draft choice under-achievers in this decade. He came out of the University of Hawaii with speed, speed, speed, supposedly running the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds.
Seven years later, what does the 29-year old Lelie bring the Chiefs? Does he still have his speed? Why will he succeed in Kansas City when he was inconsistent in Denver and failed in Atlanta, San Francisco and Oakland? Since he was traded away by the Broncos during a pre-season contract holdout, Lelie has played in 43 games and caught a total of 49 passes for 742 yards and three TDs for three different teams. (That’s him getting crunched last year by Brandon Carr and Bernard Pollard in a Chiefs-Raiders game.)
Not exactly the recent resume of a difference maker.
“I think he’s healthy and he’s a little different (style) than anything we have,” said Haley. “He’s a long, lean guy with some speed, with some potential top end speed. I thought it was a chance to get somebody in here that’s a little different than what we had.”
Lelie has been waiting since the end of last season for a new home. That an offer to sign didn’t come until the middle of August does not bother him, even though his chances of making the club could be hurt by his late arrival.
“I don’t think, especially with the coaches bringing me in, they must not think so either,” said Lelie. “They think I have a pretty good shot.”
Does he still pack the same kind of speed he brought out of the college game?
“Oh, definitely,” Lelie said, “especially, because I’m so fresh. I haven’t really had any major injuries. My body still hasn’t been banged up. So I still feel like I’m 23 out there.”
Over his career, Lelie has caught 217 passes for 3,749 yards and 15 TDS. The bulk of that total came in the 2004 season with Denver when he caught 54 balls for 1,084 yards and seven TDs.
He played 10 games against the Chiefs with Denver and Oakland, catching 20 passes for 359 yards and no touchdowns.