KCCD Contributor: Jonathan Hake
Coming into the season this roster looked like a lock to be one of the most talented teams in the NFL. But, truly talented teams perform better than a one win season regardless of who is at the QB position. Everyone who has watched a Chiefs game knows that QB must be addressed and our current head coach leaves much to be desired. With this season lost what positions need to be improved over the offseason?
Brandon Carr departed when he signed a five year deal worth 10 million a year. The signing of Stanford Routt to replace Carr seemed like an adequate stop gap until we could draft another talented corner. Brandon Flowers and Javier Arenas are both smaller corners and Jalil Brown is still young. Adding a talented corner to play the outside corner position would help return this defense to its elite status. This draft seems poised to have several big and athletic corners capable of being starters from day one. Johnathan Banks, DeMarcus Milliner, and Xavier Rhodes are all big cornerbacks and potential first round picks.
Strong Inside Linebacker:
Jovan Belcher is the current starter and he does a great job stuffing the run. He puts his helmet in the gap and allows DJ free room to make plays. The position is routinely burned in pass coverage. Belcher is a step slow in coverage and often appears lost in zone coverage. Drafting a young athletic linebacker to push for playing time would allow the defense to disguise their coverage schemes better. The major player here is Manti Te’o; however, he will be gone in the top 15 picks. Te’o brings great athleticism to the table. He has shown the ability to stay with athletic players in college and plays very good in zone coverage. Te’o also brings the size and instincts to be disruptive in the running game. Shayne Skov and Michael Mauti both should be available in the second and possibly even the third rounds. Taking Te’o could drastically improve the defense but that first pick has to be locked in on taking a QB.
Dwayne Bowe is likely out the door this offseason. Either the Chiefs will franchise tag him and trade him or they allow him to walk and accept the third round compensation pick. Jonathan Baldwin shows talent on the practice field and in training camp but has yet to show the same skillset in a live football game. Steve Breaston has pulled a Houdini act and disappeared this season. Wiley and McCluster appear to be solid interior wide receivers but another threat outside that has the ability to stretch the field vertically would allow Jamaal Charles more room to run as well as the playmakers underneath. The wide receiver class this year appears to be deep with players containing all the measurables you want; speed around the 4.4 mark and height above 6’1. Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Da’Rick Rogers lead a very talented group of junior players. The seniors contain several playmakers as well with Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams, and Cobi Hamilton showing a great skillset.
When the Chiefs drafted Eric Berry as the number five overall pick, they believed that the position would be set for years to come. Kendrick Lewis has stepped up and proven to be a starter in the NFL but they have both had injury issues. The Chiefs have shown a desire to run a three safety package. This package means there are snaps available for another safety. That safety needs to be capable of backing up both of our starters while able to hold their own as the third safety on the field. Travis Daniels is clearly not the answer and Abram Elam is just a stop gap. Kenny Vaccaro, T.J. McDonald, and Robert Lester are all capable starters at both positions and could step up to start if needed. They could all be available in the second round as well as the third round. Safety also is traditionally a position where gems can be found in the later rounds.
I would have never predicted this being a need going into the season but Tony Moeaki has been silent much of the season while Boss may never play again. Adding depth to the tight end position as well as talent to push Moeaki is a must. This team’s identity as a running team requires that you have the ability to make plays in the passing game. Tight ends bring the unique opportunity of helping in the running game as well as being playmakers in the passing game. The tight end position is also one that can be addressed outside of the first round; there is always a chance at finding a playmaker in the middle rounds. Tyler Eifert leads the tight ends but there are always surprises that go unnoticed during the draft and make big impacts on the field. Jake Stoneburner is a mid-round player to watch as he plays in Urban Meyer’s offense.
Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson are both top 5 picks and both are very good in run defense. Neither player has shown the ability to provide pressure on the QB. The defense wants defensive ends to focus on stuffing the run first but the threat of a pass rush is a bonus. Dorsey is likely out the door and Jackson is due to be vastly overpaid next season. Allen Bailey, Shaun Smith, and Ropati Pitoitua provide a rotation that could use another young talent. I suspect Jackson will be back but there is always room for another young lineman. Taking another lineman early would likely cause a fan backlash however this position should definitely be addressed in the middle rounds. This position is loaded with first round talent as Star Lotulelei, Johnathan Hankins, and Sheldon Richardson have shown great skills and perfect measurables to handle the five technique defensive end. A player to watch is Margus Hunt from SMU. Hunt should be available due to a lack of experience but he has room to grow and a great frame to grow into.