Kansas City Chiefs: 2012 Team Needs
February 22nd, 2012 By DraftNasty Staff Reports
The Chiefs won the AFC West division crown in 2010 behind a resurgent Matt Cassel and the league's best rushing duo in Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. Last season, the offense struggled to score after injuries to Cassel and Charles robbed the team of two of its top young stars. Along with them, the team also lost 2010 Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and promising young tight end Tony Moeaki. First-year HC Romeo Crennel will attempt to turn the team's fortunes around after a strong close as its interim coach in 2011.
2012 Kansas City Chiefs
Potential Free Agents: Kyle Orton, QB, Tyler Palko, QB (Exclusive rights FA), Jackie Battle, RB, Thomas Jones, RB, Le’Ron McClain, FB, Dwayne Bowe, WR, Jerheme Urban, WR, Anthony Becht, TE, Jake O’Connell, TE (Restricted), Leonard Pope, TE, Barry Richardson, OT, Casey Wiegmann, C
Positions of Need: OL, RB, WR
Barring any setbacks, the Chiefs hope Matt Cassel returns to his 2010 form after an injury-shortened 2011 season. Cassel got off to an alarmingly erratic start, but he seemed to settle down. Coincidently, the Chiefs can consider re-signing Kyle Orton, who shined late in the season during his absence.
In his Mile High return, Orton was solid, if unspectacular, in the Chiefs’ victory over the Broncos. Prior to that, he outdueled Aaron Rodgers in orchestrating an upset over the 13-0 Packers. 2nd-year man Ricky Stanzi played well in last year’s preseason and seems to be an option as a developmental starter behind Cassel.
Don’t be surprised if the Chiefs sit tight in this spot. Cassel would seem to have a firm grasp on the position.
Free agent Thomas Jones combined with Jamaal Charles to form the league’s best RB duo in 2010. After Charles went down to an ACL injury early in 2011, Jones didn’t mesh quite as well with Dexter McCluster and Jackie Battle. If either Jones and/or Battle leaves in free agency, the Chiefs would left with McCluster –4.5 yds/carry- and a recycled Charles.
Neither would pack the strong, sturdy punch of either Jones or Battle. New England Patriots’ free agent RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be attractive if available at a reasonable price. It is unknown when Charles will be at or near full strength, but he, McCluster and Green-Ellis would form a formidable trio.
Dwayne Bowe will be courted by a number of teams because he’s a legitimate #1 wideout who’s dominated his individual matchups the last two seasons. While Steve Breaston provided consistency as the team’s #2, it remains to be seen whether last year’s first round pick -Jonathan Baldwin- is capable of being the go-to guy.
A preseason locker room fight cost the former Pitt Panther valuable time in Year One, but he matured as the season went along. Baldwin is very capable of making plays down the field and the team even used him in a quasi-slot role at times. His development will be a key point of interest moving forward.
While McCluster is a viable option out of the backfield and in the slot, the team could use another outside threat with run after the catch skills. Houston’s Patrick Edwards is small, but he has proven capable of getting separation when aligned on the perimeter.
The team’s biggest coup may be the potential return of yet another young starter –TE Tony Moeaki- to the lineup. Moeaki provided a legitimate middle of the field option as a rookie and his on-field presence and underrated blocking ability are huge for the offense.
Whether Wiegmann returns is not the main issue. Two young interior offensive linemen –Rodney Hudson and Jon Asamoah- have to justify their draft positions from 2011. Asamoah started 16 games in his rookie year, while Hudson managed one start. Hudson should get first dibs on replacing Wiegmann at center should he not return.
RT Barry Richardson was put in a tough spot as a blind side pass protector when Tyler Palko (left-handed) was inserted in the lineup. This exposed some of his biggest weaknesses. It is highly likely the unrestricted free agent will not return. Right tackle thus becomes one of the team’s biggest points of interest. The Chiefs’ front office will target players with zone run blocking skill and swing versatility.
Potential Free Agents: Wallace Gilberry, DL, Kelly Gregg, DL, Jovan Belcher, LB (Restricted), Brandon Carr, CB, Reshard Langford, SS (Exclusive Rights FA), Jon McGraw, SS
Positions of Need: CB, DT
The team was gashed on the ground at times, particularly within the division. It is uncertain whether last year’s sixth-round pick Jerrell Powe will ever develop into a bona fide solution in the middle. Regardless, with the potential departure of free agent Kelly Gregg, the NG spot will get attention. DT-DE Amon Gordon got even more burn (playing time) than Powe, but he may be best suited in a backup role. He provides versatility at multiple positions.
If the Chiefs were able to get their hands on someone like Memphis’ Dontari Poe, it could be a good fit. On the hoof, Poe’s physical characteristics suggest he’d be the typical 3-4 0-technique. There will be few players who’ll grade out in this department much better than Poe. Romeo Crennel would have his Ted Washington-type in the middle if someone of Poe’s caliber joined the mix.
At defensive end, free agent Wallace Gilberry may not return, but Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey have developed into a decent pair. A late round pick to add depth could be a possibility.
This would seem to be one of the strongest positions on the team after ILBs Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher combined for 218 tackles. Johnson earned 1st Team All-Pro status in the process.
Rising 2nd year OLB Justin Houston proved to one of the quieter rookie steals of last year's draft class. Off the field concerns and a questionable on-field motor caused him to slide to the 3rd round in the 2011 NFL Draft. He contributed on special teams and made ten starts a year ago (53 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 4 PBUs).
Many quarterbacks in the AFC felt the Chiefs had the conference’s best duo at cornerback in the Brandons- Carr and Flowers. Flowers has overcome questions about his pedestrian timed speed coming out of Virginia Tech (4.58) to become one of the league’s best bump-n-run corners. Some feel Carr may be even better, but the team is in serious danger of losing his services in free agency.
If that were to happen, the newly signed Stanford Routt would be at least a serviceable replacement. The problem is that he doesn’t play as well with his back to the football as Carr. With Javier Arenas holding down the nickel/slot, it would be conceivable to think the Chiefs would possibly bring in another outside corner. Everything here rides on Carr’s pending free agent status.
At safety, Eric Berry was yet another promising young Chief who fell victim to the injury bug (ACL) in 2011. Berry is young enough that he should be able to at least come close to his pre-injury form. Veteran Jon McGraw, Sabby Piscitelli and youngster Reshard Langford all got legitimate reps in 2011. McGraw is a free agent. Langford is a solid third safety who could potentially buy some time if another injury occurred to Berry or third-year man Kendrick Lewis. Lewis has started 26 games over the last two years and he recorded three interceptions for the second consecutive season.
Got an item? Please send an email to [email protected]
Want to read the rest of this DraftNasty.com Article for FREE?
Register an Account for FREE by clicking here.
Already got an Account? Login by clicking here.