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December 08, 2004

Looking To Next Year « Kansas City Chiefs »

There’s still four games left to play in the season for the Chiefs. But it’s never to early to slap an ill-formed and ill-informed opinion out there for anyone to deride.

So here goes with my opinion of what the Chiefs’ need to accomplish in the offseason:

Offensive Line
No change needed. Willie Roaf and Will Shields are still Pro-Bowl caliber and show no sign of not being Pro-Bowl caliber next year. Brian Waters and Casey Weigmann are both playing at near-Pro-Bowl level and are young enough that there is little to no chance of drop-off next year. Right Tackle could have been problematic, but Bober seemed to actually be playing better than Welbourn. But when Bober went down in the 3rd Quarter in the last game, Jordon Black fulfilled the hopes that led to him being picked last year as a project, in that he played well and there was no noticeable drop-off. We haven’t seen Brett Williams play yet, but he was also considered a project, and when you consider the starters (Roaf, Shields, Waters, and Wiegmann), he could be a quite capable starter and still never see the field. And on top of all that, last year’s last pick, Kevin Sampson, has been developing so much more quickly than expected that he may start at RT against the Titans this weekend. We have a plethora of riches here.

Running Back
Stacked here, too. The biggest question may be which RB we have to let go. If I have my way, we’ll keep Priest Holmes only for red zone duty and maybe 1-2 games as a back-up. He could still end up breaking his own TD record that way. I’d also hold on to Blaylock, because he’s the better pass-blocker and receiver than Johnson. Plus, we’d probably have a better chance to get an equivalent-level WR by trading Johnson than Blaylock.

Call me crazy, but we’re stacked here, too, even with the deterioration of Jerome Woods. Wesley is playing at near-pro-bowl level. Shaunard Harts had moments of brilliance last year, too. Then Willie Pile comes in this year and refuses to miss tackles. Scott Connot was impressive as an undrafted rookie FA. And William Bartee was converted from a college Safety to an NFL corner….but while he’s made progress this year, his excellent tackling combined with infrequent coverage lapses may indicate he should be converted back…except that as I’ve pointed out, we’re stacked in this position.

Tight End
Tony Gonzales is still the best, despite not having the very best numbers this year. Jason Dunn is dangerous and can hurt you if you ignore him. And Kris Wilson could be a monster by providing the same match-up problems as TG while on the field at the same time: a three TE formation that is as dangerous in passing as it would be devestating in blocking would be nearly impossible to stop.

Adequate (no need to waste a draft pick):
Kick Returner
Dante Hall

Lawrence Tynes

Steve Cheek

Long Snapper
Kendall Gammon

Could draft for depth/future:
Trent Green keeps going strong without missing a start. When he’s on, he’s amazingly accurate with deft touch, and he’s not that bad even when he’s not on. He’s an elite-level QB who we won’t be able to replace easily. Luckily, with his endurance we may not have to for a few years.
But is Todd Collins the QB of the Future? No. And Damon Huard most definitely isn’t. I saw enough from our rookie FA QB in preseason (Clouson?) to think he would have been a good 3rd-string development project, but I guess the Chiefs didn’t see it that way. If you feel you must need an experienced 3rd String QB with little upside, you must not have much confidence in your #2 QB…which means, why have him? We need to find a guy with top-notch decision skills from college who we think can develop a good arm with NFL-level training regimens. We need to find a smart QB who can run an offense but doesn’t turn heads with physical gifts so he might slide to the later rounds. Joe Montana was that type, Bulger was that type, Trent Green, Tom Brady, Ben Rothelsberger (sorry, I don’t feel like looking up the spelling) all seem to be that type who play using their mind first, their heart second, and their arm third. And maybe even their feet fourth. That’s a SuperBowl-winning, Hall of Fame QB. He’s out there, we just have to find him.

Need to find a quality starter:
Wide Receiver
Eddie Kennison may still have a game or two in him, but he doesn’t seem to have full seasons anymore. Johnny Morton isn’t bad, and is one of the best at moving the chains. But two slips by him led to two interceptions that directly led to two losses. He doesn’t seem able to take over a game (which, admittedly, is difficult to do from the WR position). But I have no confidence in trying to make a Super Bowl run with either of these two at #1 and #2 WR. I’d put Morton as #3 WR, and Kennison as #5 at best. Dante Hall is a threat at any time, but isn’t big enough to be a #1 or #2 WR, and the more WR he plays, the more it hurts his returns. Call him #4.
Mark Boerigter should return 100%. I think he’s matured enough, and he showed enough in the preseason this last year that he could be a legitimate pro-bowl WR. Certainly worthy of being a #1 WR. Chris Horn gives his all, is good on special teams, and seems to make one highlight-reel-worthy catch and run in every game that he saw significant action. But as much as I like him, I don’t think he will ever be a good #2 WR. Call him #6…and we might not even go with 6 WRs.
But the burning question is still the #2 guy. Richard Smith turned heads during the pre-season, but wasn’t seasoned enough to play this year, it seems. Samie Parker was amazing at times, less impressive than Richard Smith at others, but also hasn’t impressed the coaches enough for playing time this season. But then, we didn’t expect all the WR injuries and thought we were fairly-well set at WR before the season started, and so Parker and Jeris McIntyre were drafted as raw projects who wouldn’t be asked to contribute until their second season. So could one of these three step up and be the #2 WR? Heck, one of them might step up well enough to be the #1 if Boerigter doesn’t come back 100% by the start of the season.
So we need to draft a good one. And not a project, but a solid #1 WR who will get better as his career progresses. He could come from the FA market, or the draft, or in a trade for Larry Johnson. He doesn’t have to be a star, but someone who will be dependable and win games, move the chains, and score touchdowns. If Boerigter returns 100%, and both Smith and Parker progress as well as expected, we *could* end up with 4 starter-level WRs (Boerigter, drafted/traded/FA guy, Parker and Smith) . That’s a problem I’d love to happen, with the problems we’ve had at WR this year…

Warfield is finally fulfilling expectations. He’s not a shut-down cover, but he’s more than adequate. He can change momentum with an INT at any time, and can take it to the house. But McLeon is too small, Bartee too inconsistent, and Battle still too green to solidify the opposite side, and so opposing quarterbacks are able to avoid him easily. That’s one of the reasons takeaways are so far down this year. Bartee made great strides this year, though, and is still young. Battle may still improve to starter-quality…he’s got the physical skills. Benny Sapp was another rookie-FA miracle, and he’s shown decent coverage skills and good tackling, enough that the coaches trusted him to be the dime CB. So there are three candidates in-house who could do the job next year, and with three young guys still developing, you’d think we’d be fairly well set for the top three CB positions. Especially if one of the safeties like Harts or Pile can play dime CB, as I think they have the speed/range/skills to do.
But like the WRs, we can’t depend on that. We have to draft someone, right? So we might as well try to draft a good CB to shore up the #2 position. It will increase competition for the #3 and #4 position, which can only help.

Defensive Line
Jared Allen is going to be a monster. He’s darn good already.
Junior Siavii showed good stuff before he got dinged up. Should be a solid player.
Sims? I think he’ll never be much more than mediocre. Dalton can penetrate and is a force at times, but he may need help. Hicks gets pressures but not sacks. Is he declining? John Browning? Montique Sharpe? Jimmy Wilkerson? I had high hopes for them, but no one is stepping up. Maybe all we need is one good guy to draw double teams to open things up for the others. We’ve done well enough with lower picks and free agency that we can stick with that, I think.

I’m perplexed. I like Fujita and have seen him make excellent plays. I’ve never seen him make bad plays. He’s got good speed and makes tackles all over the field. I’ve never seen him out of position badly, but then I’m not a football expert, so maybe he’s out of position every other play…dunno.
Monty Biesel looked great before his injury. I thought he showed enough to be MLB starter. But I have the hardest time evaluating LBs, I guess. So maybe I’m wrong.
Maslowski might just be back next year, and he is a general on the field who doesn’t miss on tackles, never quits, and makes sure that everyone is doing what they should. Even as slow as he is, he is an asset on the field.
Keyaron Fox looked good in preseason, but still just does special teams to this point. Could he be good enough to start?
Kavika Mitchell has the physical skills to succeed: size, speed, and strength. Even I’ve noticed his mistakes in play, though. Waiver Wire at this point? Fixable?
Shawn Barber was well-regarded. He’s made some good plays. He’s missed some tackles though. I’ve seen him bounce of more players than he should. I know he had some wrist problems that made wrapping up difficult, but…he has never fulfilled my expectations.
Quentin Caver was a top back-up or a starter before he came to us, I think. When I saw he wasn’t even #2 at any of our LB positions, I thought that meant our LB corps was a strength, or that maybe he wasn’t as good as I thought. But then when Barber goes down and Biesel and Mitchell are both dinged, he comes in and makes several good, strong, open-field tackles, when Barber might have bounced of a guys’ legs in allowing a first down run. Maybe the coaches were wrong about him?
Fred Jones? Rich Scanlon? I have no idea what they can do.
I’m the most perplexed about the LBs. I don’t actually see them doing stuff wrong, as much as not doing stuff right. They don’t force fumbles or get interceptions or take someone down behind the line of scrimmage or lay a big hit on a short reception or anything.
Maybe we need to draft 3 linebackers this year, and get another one in FA or something. Denver lost 2 of 3 starters and seem to have less problems than we do having grown most of ours from within.
This should be our priority, I guess.

So here’s what I propose:
1st round: Starter-quality LB
2nd round: Solid starter-quality CB
3rd round: Solid back-up potential starter WR
4th round: LB
5th round: CB
6th round: LB
7th round: DL

Free Agency: one good CB, one good LB, and one good WR. Then bunches of DL players, a mix of rookie FAs and a few no-name players and let ‘em fight it out. If we get a good enough FA CB or WR, then skip them in the draft and get the best LB/DL available.

For what it's worth...

Posted by Nathan at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)
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