KCCD Editor: Jinx Allessio
Every NFL team had the deal with the lame duck preseason of 2011 due to the Player’s Union squabble with ownership over the details of the collective bargaining agreement currently in place. Some rookies throughout the NFL were able to hit their stride with no consequence and some were left in the dust. The Chiefs rookie class of 2011 is no exception, except no rookie hit their stride until the 2nd half of the season.
I envision improvements of monumental proportions when I take a look at where the 2011 rookie class will be this year and in the future. In the first installment I will be focusing on the Undrafted Free Agent class along with the pick from round 7.
Some teams who have the right people in place in the player personnel department have a knack for finding UDFA’s that can come in a contribute either right away or in the near future. Scott Pioli and company have proved they are some of the best at finding that talent. Jovan Belcher was a UDFA from the 2009 class. He is currently a starting inside linebacker that transitioned from the football factory, University of Maine, where he played defensive end. In his final season he lead the Colonial Athletic conference in tackles for loss.
Two players picked up during the post-draft period are going to be fighting for spots on the Chiefs final 53. David Mims is an offensive tackle that was brought up from the practice squad near the end of the 2011 season. This did not occur just because the Chiefs released Jared Gaither, several reports indicated that some teams were highly interested in plucking David from the practice squad. David will enter training camp as a back up tackle and will battle Chiefs 2012 3rd round pick, Donald Stephenson for the primary back up role.
The Chiefs have indicated they are moving to a zone blocking scheme which may hurt David’s chance at winning the job. David is a mammoth of a man who’s skill set are more suited for a power blocking scheme. Even with the change of offensive line philosophy the Chiefs would be very wise to keep him on the 53 man roster.
The other UDFA from the 2011 class that will enter training camp battling for a position on the final 53 is Brandon Bair. Brandon Bair was projected by many in the industry to be drafted somewhere in the 6th-7th round. Brandon is very tall, fundamentally sound defensive end from the Oregon who needs to fill out his body some to become a 3-4 defensive end. The Chiefs have a lot of defensive ends coming into camp. Some have more defined roles in the subpackage or base defensive but Brandon can contribute in both. His ability to stack and shed, even at a light weight for his height was one of the best in the draft class.
The defensive linemen that are all but guaranteed a spot on the roster are Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Tyson Jackson, Glen Dorsey and Amon Gordon. Their is a handful of players coming in to camp fighting for another 2-4 spots. Brandon Bair has a chance to make the cut but this training camp will make or break his career as a part of the Kansas City Chiefs. Give him a full preseason program to fill out and he could make some noise that will resonate across the front line of that defense.
During the 2011 NFL Draft assistant head coach Maurice Carthon was presumably given the reigns to chose a fullback in the 7th round. An unfortunate rumor surfaced that Scott Pioli’s relationship with Bannon’s agent, Joe Linta was more of a reason that Bannon was chosen. Documented proof in Michel Holley’s book ‘The War Room’ provided greater insight that it was a case where Pioli entrusted Carthon to make the right choice. Scott is to have told Maurice that you have to right to chose any fullback that they scouted, he chose little known fullback out of Yale University, Shane Bannon.
Shannon Bannon is a full back who can also be used as an in-line blocker from the TE position. He did not carry the ball that much in college but showed soft hands when given the chance to catch out of the backfield. Shane will be able to provide the Chiefs a player that can block from many positions on the field and also be a contributor on special teams. Will Shane make the final 53? At the least he will see another year on the practice squad but will need to show that he can contribute in several areas of the team to make the cut.
It is not often that a team takes two UDFAs and a 7th rounder from a previous draft class and finds them on the final 53 man roster. Bair, Mims and Bannon could all find spots on the squad. They can make such progress during this preaseason that stashing them on the practice squad could mean losing them to other teams.
Over the next few weeks I will be adding to this series with more in depth breakdowns of role’s that the 2011 Chiefs’ draft class will have. The next installment will focus on the two 5th round picks(Ricky Stanzi, Gabe Miller) and 6th round pick Jerrell Powe.