Boston College LB Mark Herzlich Would Be Great Fit For Kansas City Chiefs

The most recognizable undrafted free agent would be a great addition to the Chiefs' locker room and linebacking corps.

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Boston College LB Mark Herzlich Would Be Great Fit For Kansas City Chiefs

Easily the most high-profile prospect to be passed over in the 2011 NFL Draft, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich must wait for the dust to settle on the current NFL lockout before he can sign as an undrafted free agent. And while his dreams of being drafted somehow did not come true, that hasn’t deterred Herzlich from keeping his dream intact.

In fact, Herzlich is so committed to playing in the NFL that he’s skipping another team that actually drafted him. The Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League (UFL) selected Herzlich in the league’s recent draft, but Herzlich is skipping out and hoping to find a home in the NFL. In a recent ESPN article, Herzlich says he thinks he can fit at linebacker within both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense.

Boston sportswriter Mike Reiss notes that Herzlich is healthy again and ready to prove that to the team that signs him:

“I think teams look at my situation and want to see tangible results in the combine and in different things saying, ’He’s back and he’s 100 percent.’ I don’t think that my combine times showed them that necessarily. I think that was an issue,” he said, adding that some teams might have been affected by a “scare factor.” “I’m back, I’m healthy, I’m strong, I’m ready to go, so whenever I get a chance to get on a team, I’ll be able to prove [that] to them.”

While the Chiefs addressed several holes this off-season already via the draft alone, a void still lingers at the linebacker spot. New additions via the draft of Justin Houston and Gabe Miller help, especially as a pass rushing option opposite Tamba Hali. However, both picks also come with some question marks. The incumbent starter, Mike Vrabel, was recently arrested and age concerns and a drop in production had many wondering if he would even be back in the first place.

In the middle, Jovan Belcher held down the inside spot opposite Derrick Johnson, yet an upgrade is certainly possible there. Herzlich wouldn’t provide that himself, at least in the beginning, but adding to the depth and competition at all linebacker spots only helps in camp, and adding someone with Herzlich’s talent and leadership could only help the team chemistry.

In the end, someone with Herzlich’s willpower and work ethic is going to make it over other rookies in an off-season where there’s little turnaround in learning a playbook and making an impact. The Chiefs would do well to grab some help at the linebacker position, get some special teams depth and add a player who would make an instant impact in both the locker room and the field.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay Already Reveals Next Year's First Round

ESPN’s Todd McShay proves it’s never too early for anything, really, in the world of new media by posting his full first-round projections of the 2012 NFL Draft — mere days after the 2011 version has cycled down. To no one’s surprise, McShay has Andrew Luck, the all-world quarterback from Stanford, going No. 1 overall in the draft.

Using a draft order of Scouts, Inc. writer Matt Williamson’s power rankings after the draft, McShay has the Chiefs drafting at No. 17 overall. With that choice, the Chiefs take an inside linebacker, Man’ti Teo of Notre Dame:

Te’o has developed into a solid player and should emerge as one of the elite linebackers in the nation in 2011. He continues to improve his recognition skills and has the quickness and power you look for in a starting inside linebacker in the NFL.

That position isn’t a stretch in the slightest when considering the level of importance of the choice and the current Chiefs players at the position. After addressing other holes, inside linebacker would be next up on the list and if the Chiefs aren’t pleased with the progress of Jovan Belcher, this could be a sign of things to come. Then again, we’ll hear about another 100 prospects in this same slot if we’re already talking about the 2012 NFL Draft.

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NFL Draft: Missouri Center Tim Barnes Contacted By Ravens, Dolphins After Going Undrafted

When Elton John sings he’s still standing, it’s a confident refrain. For Missouri center Tim Barnes, he’s left to wonder why he’s still standing as an undrafted prospect after a full seven rounds of the NFL Draft came and went with nary a selection.

For those who’ve been paying attention, it comes as a shock to them as well. After all, Barnes grades well in size (604, 300) and ability. He has three years of starting experience at a high-caliber program at Missouri, and was highly regarded by draft experts. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post had him ranked No. 3 overall among centers, just after Mike Pouncey and Stefen Wisniewski.

Dave Matter, sportswriter for the Columbia Daily Tribune discusses Barnes’ case in great detail and the full article is worth a read. For our purposes, he writes:

Barnes texted me Sunday night and said the Baltimore Ravens contacted him immediately after the draft. Once teams are allowed to negotiate with prospects, the Ravens could sign Barnes to a free-agent deal or invite him to a tryout. Veteran Pro-Bowl center Matt Birk is in the final year of his contract and might retire after one more season. The Ravens didn’t address the interior of their line in the draft, so perhaps they can sign Barnes and develop him as an eventual replacement for Birk. The Dolphins and Bengals contacted him, too.

For players like Barnes or Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, life in the NFL is still possible once free agents can be signed. But this last weekend is certainly cause for a chip on a shoulder and questions why things didn’t turn out as they hoped.

For continued news on Barnes and Mizzou football, check out a great site at Rock M Nation.

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Pat Devlin, Mark Herzlich Highlight Top Undrafted NFL Draft Prospects

Even after the Kansas City Chiefs added nine new prospects and 254 were selected overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, some decent names still remain unclaimed after the smoke has cleared. Unfortunately for those players, the typical frenzy that earns some of them solid bonus money won't be there since they are now officially considered free agents. Welcome to the world post-draft where there's no guarantee of any NFL news for quite some time.

For those keeping track, however, you'll find some good potential additions for the Chiefs (or other teams). Below are a few prospects were highlighting.

1. Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
The size (6-4, 244) and intangibles are all there for some lucky team able to sign Herzlich to a undrafted free agent deal. The Boston College linebacker was a star in the making before his famous bout with cancer sidelined the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year for a full season. He's still making his comeback and teams generally steered far away from any injury concerns this year, as evidenced by Da'Quan Bowers freefall. Still Herzlich's natural ability and leadership will find him a roster audition and his work ethic will most likely keep him there.

2. Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
The famous home of Joe Flacco has birthed another impressive quarterback in Devlin (6-3, 225) who threw for over 3,000 yards this year along with 22 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Mixed results on both arm strength and accuracy this post-season at his Pro Day and East-West Shrine Game killed his stock, but game tape shows a savvy quarterback with enough ability to earn a chance.

3. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
Devine is a spark of a back who put up big time stats in his career despite his size. At 5-8, 180 pounds, Devine certainly causes scouts to question his ability at the next level, but he averaged 6 yards/carry in his four-year career while piling up 4,300 yards and 29 touchdowns. With most teams employing a multi-tiered running attack, it's hard to imagine Devine's speed and soft hands won't earn him some playing time.

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Select Fullback Shane Bannon With Final Pick In Seventh Round

After a busy draft featuring nine overall selections at seemingly every position on the field, the Chiefs have made their final choice in the 2011 NFL Draft with fullback Shane Bannon from Yale University. The Ivy League product flew under the radar for most teams, even for his own agent, yet once they came on campus or watched the tape, there was proof positive that an NFL future awaited of some kind.

As Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register notes, “In the last week, Bannon has been touted as one of the sleepers among non-Football Bowl Subdivision players. A 4.69 40-yard dash, which the 265-pound Bannon ran at the first of his two pro days in March, will tend to open some eyes.” In other words, Bannon is that classic small school, final round pick that offers promise at the very least. With solid size, speed and work ethic, there’s no reason Bannon can’t help immediately on special teams.

Overall the Chiefs identified the same needs as most experts and fans would have and filled them with impressive prospects. Bannon is the last in line of a strong group, and most should be pleased with another solid draft by Scott Pioli and company.

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Grab Nose Tackle Jerrell Powe In Sixth Round

With a compensatory selection late in the sixth round, the Kansas City Chiefs have added another defensive prospect by taking a much needed space eater along the defensive line in Mississippi defensive tackle Jerrell Powe. At 6-2, 335, Powe will definitely occupy blockers up front and should free up pass rushers like Tamba Hali more than ever.

While his numbers fell last season as a senior to 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks (after posting 12 and 3 as a junior), there’s no substitute for Powe’s sheer size and strength. NFL Draft Scout had him as a third round prospect. CBS Sports notes, “Powe’s girth and strength make him an ideal candidate to line up on the nose in the NFL. Considering the number of pro teams switching to the 3-4 alignment, Powe should have plenty of suitors.”

Sports Illustrated had him rated as a possible second round choice and notes his potential:

Coming into the season Powe was justifiably rated as the top nose tackle prospect in the draft, but he had a somewhat disappointing season and watched his stock slip. At the top of his game he’s a powerful presence in the middle of the line and can occupy blockers, allowing his teammates to make plays on the ball. He possesses a good amount of upside but must quickly get his game back on track to achieve the ability scouts believe he has.

At the bottom of the sixth round, Pioli has nothing to lose and everything to gain from taking a massive tackle like this. Ron Edwards is the Chiefs incumbent starter, but any help with an interior rotation will help, especially with Powe’s ability to plug the middle.

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Grab Quarterback Ricky Stanzi, Linebacker Gabe Miller In Fifth Round

It was the lower-round move many Chiefs fans had been waiting for. As multiple quarterbacks flew off the board in earlier rounds, the Chiefs finally grabbed a prospect at the position for the first time in a few years in the fifth round of the NFL Draft with Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi. In addition, the Chiefs grabbed Oregon State linebacker Gabe Miller with their second fifth round selection.

The last time the Chiefs selected a quarterback in the draft was the third round of 2006, when they selected current back-up Brodie Croyle from Alabama. They’ve brought in free agents or traded for players, like current starter Matt Cassel, but developing a quarterback has never seemed important for Scott Pioli to this point with so many other holes on the roster. Now they have a product from a school tied closely with Pioli in Iowa’s Stanzi.

Scouts are mixed on Stanzi’s potential for success with suspect arm strength and decision making, yet he’s an accurate thrower who has a good pedigree at Iowa. It’s also hard to argue with this seasons results of 25 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions and a 64% completion percentage at a top Big Ten school.

As for their other choice, Miller put up 5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss last season amid 44 tackles in Pac-10 play, and he’s known for his quickness at end. Still, Scouts, Inc. call Miller a reach, even in the fifth round: “Miller is a reach here because he doesn’t have any elite physical tools, but he does have solid intangibles and was a team captain. Flashes the ability to get to the QB with effort.”

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Select Cornerback Jalil Brown In Fourth Round

Further bolstering a position of strength, the Kansas City Chiefs have selected cornerback Jalil Brown from the University of Colorado as their fourth round choice and fifth overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. While the Chiefs already invested heavily in defensive backs just last year, the reality is that today’s NFL is a pass-happy league that requires depth at both corner and safety.

Last year, the Chiefs selected Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis as safeties along with blitzing cornerback/return man Javier Arenas. All three played important roles this season in the Chiefs surprise division winning season, so adding to the core might seem counter-intuitive. Yet incumbent Brandon Carr isn’t guaranteed to return as a free agent, so the Chiefs must plan accordingly.

Even more important, Brown is known as a good tackler, a key quality when playing special teams. Last year, he had 46 tackles and three interceptions and Scouts, Inc. praise his hands and his tough tackling nature. He’s also received awards for community service and for his efforts in the weight room, showcasing an overall winning personality that didn’t hurt his cause.

In the end, fans should expect Brown to immediately contribute to coverage teams while also seeing the field in passing situations where he should not embarrass himself. In terms of impact on the roster, this might spell the end of the line for Donald Washington.

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Select Miami Defensive End Allen Bailey In Third Round

With their second pick in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs have selected Allen Bailey, defensive end from the University of Miami. After addressing needs at wide receiver, center and pass rushing linebacker with their first three choices, the Chiefs remained on the defensive side and grabbed one of the most highly rated players left on the board.

Bailey will fit in well with a hopefully maturing Tyson Jackson at end. He holds up well against the run, is very strong (with 27 reps at the Combine in February). He’s versatile along the line, although he lacks the bulk to play in the middle in a 3-4. The Chiefs most likely see him as an end only. NFL.com notes:

Uses his hands, power moves and good get off to pressure the passer. Very complete against the run. Holds his base very well, gets off blocks, fights through double teams and is a sure tackler when arriving at the ball-carrier. Shows sound awareness and positioning on the field. Relentless in pursuit either from the backside or down the field. Bailey’s a probable first round pick.

Wes Bunting agrees with his potential and writes, “As a size/speed athlete the guy has the skill set to be as good as he wants in the NFL.” However, Bunting also believes he might never reach that potential due to his lack of work ethic. Reports vary between sites, which most likely led to Bailey dropping toward the fourth round.

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Select Georgia Linebacker Justin Houston In Third Round

After the breakthrough season that Tamba Hali enjoyed, one of the primary needs identified for the Kansas City Chiefs has been a counterpart on the opposite side. Consider that need filled, at least to some degree, with the addition of third round choice Justin Houston.

Houston has 19 career sacks, including 10 last season, and has been a consistent force against opposing quarterbacks two straight seasons. The National Football Post’s Wes Bunting describes Houston like the following:

An explosive pass rusher who has been productive in the SEC the past two seasons and knows how to consistently threaten the corner. Has the fluidity to develop a counter move, but needs some time. Looks like a potential impact-caliber pass rusher at the next level.

The Chiefs have added a prime talent at a surprisingly low position, and some question his ability to be a three-down linebacker. He also likes to play with his hand on the ground, so some teams wondered where exactly to play him — at linebacker or end. With Mike Vrabel’s age and recent legal run-in, finding a replacement was inevitable. Paired with Andy Studebaker, the Chiefs now have a strength at outside linebacker.

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NFL Draft: Chiefs Select Center Rodney Hudson In Second Round

The Chiefs are apparently most interested in providing for quarterback Matt Cassel with their NFL Draft chips in 2011. Their second round choice, Rodney Hudson, only helps to solidify the interior of an offensive line that showed signs of age as the season wore on, and combined with last year’s choice of Jon Asamoah, helps to give the Chiefs a solid future there.

The Florida State product was widely heralded as one of the top available interior linemen in the draft. He’s a probable center with plenty of starts over four years who is also versatile enough to play some guard. Nearly every draft pundit has Hudson in a zone blocking scheme and note his high football intelligence as an asset. Specifically, Mocking the Draft says the following:

Hudson has a bright future in the NFL but he needs to land on a team that will utilize his skill set. He is not the ideal candidate to land with a power running team. Hudson would fit with a team that employs a zone scheme that will allow him to engage and turn the defender. He has the versatility to play either guard or center but he may be more valuable at the center position. His football IQ and solid technique is what will make him a successful pro.

The Chiefs grabbed Jon Baldwin, wide receiver from Pitt in the first round, to give Cassel another outlet in the passing game, and now Hudson fits to better protect up the middle along the line. The Chiefs quarterback has to feel better knowing the Chiefs are continuing to invest in his, and their, success.

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NFL Draft: Second Round Mocks Have Chiefs Addressing Lines

The Chiefs grabbed a skill position in round one, a much needed addition of Pitt’s Jonathan Baldwin to pair opposite Dwayne Bowe. Now, draft analysts like Mel Kiper have the Chiefs taking an offensive lineman.

Kiper specifically has the Chiefs grabbing Orlando Franklin, a guard from Miami (FL). He writes that Franklin provides “added protection for Matt Cassel and a good run blocker as Scott Pioli builds his lines.” Scouts, Inc. like his measurements and skills, but question his injury history and attitude problems.

CBS Sports’ Chad Reuter has the Chiefs taking Florida State OG/C Rodney Hudson. He writes, “The Brian Waters clone could step in at center immediately to help keep Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones productive, as well as protect QB Matt Cassel.”

Defensive tackle is still a possibility if names like Stephen Paea are still on the board, and you have to wonder if Leonard Hankerson or Randall Cobb are still around if the Chiefs would load up at receiver two picks in a row to maximize Matt Cassel’s options.

As Scott Pioli showed, it’s difficult to predict what the Chiefs front office will do on draft day. But you have to trust the process given the recent returns.

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Chiefs Select Pittsburgh Wide Receiver Jonathan Baldwin In First Round

Despite the rumors and discussion concerning the offensive or defensive line, Matt Cassel has to be the happiest teammate at this point with the curveball of a selection in the first round with Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The Chiefs have a hole at wide receiver, of course, with only Dwayne Bowe serving as any sort of reliable target for Cassel, but Baldwin’s checkered history coupled with holes at key positions make this a surprise choice.

The knock against Baldwin comes in key areas that seem contradictory to the draft mantra of Scott Pioli. After last year where nearly every Chiefs draft choice was a team captain and/or a high character guy, Pioli’s first strike this year is known for violent legal troubles, attitude issues and being a distraction at Pitt in general. Perhaps a team has to acquire enough high character players to handle possible risks like Baldwin, but it does send a mixed message.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to not fall in love with Baldwin’s potential with this tremendous size (6-4, 228) and speed. He averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and has top end speed. The stats are limited for Baldwin with only 5 touchdowns amid 53 catches for 822 yards. In 2009, Baldwin had a much better season with 1,111 yards and 8 touchdowns. The big play potential is clearly there, but the Chiefs need to make sure he stays focused year-round and goes with a program in place.

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Chiefs Land Extra Third Round Pick In Trade With Browns

The Kansas City Chiefs have picked up a third round choice in their trade with the Cleveland Browns out of the No. 21 slot in the NFL Draft. With the trade, the Chiefs pick up the No. 70 overall choice — the Browns third rounder — along with the original Falcons first round slot at No. 27 after Cleveland’s earlier trade down in the draft.

With so many players still available linked to the Chiefs, it’s not surprising the Chiefs were at least trying to trade down. Akeem Ayers, Gabe Carimi, Leonard Hankerson, Stephen Paea and several other names are still there for the taking. What’s interesting is that Da’Quan Bowers is still available as well. Perhaps the Chiefs will even bolster the secondary if a player like Jimmy Smith is still available near the end of the first round. Either way, the Chiefs added another important draft slot while being confident the guy they want will still be there.

For the Browns, it makes sense given the need for a space eating defensive tackle. The Chiefs could also grab someone at the same position, but the Browns had already picked up several more draft picks in the Falcons trade. Perhaps the Chiefs are also considering Muhammad Wilkerson at the defensive tackle position and knew some guys would be there.

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2011 NFL Draft: Chiefs To Likely Choose Between Danny Watkins Or Gabe Carimi In First Round

Anything is possible when it comes to the NFL Draft, but it seems the Chiefs are most likely looking for help along the offensive front when utilizing their first round choice at the No. 21 overall slot. Nearly every mock draft being released today from the familiar writers — from Mel Kiper to Mike Mayock to Rick Gosselin to Todd McShay — are predicting the Chiefs to select an offensive tackle.

Once you’re past that idea, it’s anyone’s guess. While other names like Nate Solder or Anthony Constanzo has been throw around, the primary guesses are Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi and Baylor’s versatile Danny Watkins. The former is more cemented with strong experience starting in a run-heavy offense. The latter has been rising up draft boards with his size, athleticism and leadership all in place.

In fact, it’s Watkins who is becoming the hot name as of this afternoon. Both Mike Lombardi and Mike Mayock have the Chiefs going with Watkins. Mayock specifically says, “When Scott Pioli worked with the Patriots, they took a guy named Logan Mankins. I see his reincarnation in Watkins. I think Watkins is a Pioli guy. He’s a try-hard kid. He’s gifted, tough and mean. You plug him in at right tackle in Year 1, and he’ll be able to move inside later, if needed.”

Even stronger words come from Rick Gosselin as he describes Watkins as the “safest pick in the entire draft — the one player you can confidently say will be in the Pro Bowl in 2012.” Either way, the Chiefs front line is about to get a lot better, which bodes well for riding the running game to success in 2011.

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2011 NFL Draft: Chiefs Tied To Offensive Tackle Gabe Carimi

Last season, the running back tandem of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones made the Chiefs the best running team in football. Yet the strength came against weaker competition than the Chiefs will face this season. Thus, several draft experts have the Chiefs shoring up some question marks along their offensive line with the selection of Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.

The experience of Carimi in a run-first offensive gives him the upper-hand above other tackles who might be available. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News writes, “The Chiefs want to get bigger, tougher and younger up front. KC has one of the NFL’s best runners in Jamaal Charles — and Carimi has spent a career blocking in one of the best run-oriented offenses in college football.”

Scott Pioli certainly can’t feel good about the Chiefs maintaining the same level of success against much stouter and stronger defensive fronts in 2011. Late season losses against the Chargers, Raiders and Ravens all exposed the Chiefs offensive line, and the 2011 schedule brings more of the same. Thus it’s vital for the Chiefs to strike with some early choice and address the issues to maintain their offensive identity.

The Chiefs could still select a wide receiver, a defensive tackle or even a surprise candidate who slides. Yet at this point, there seems a solid marriage waiting to happen with Carimi’s talents and the Chiefs needs.

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2011 NFL Draft: Chiefs Draft Position Is Unpredictable

Fans might as well roll the dice or spin the wheel when it comes to predicting the Kansas City Chiefs first round choice at No. 21 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Mock draft experts aren’t even united on the position the Chiefs will address, let alone the right prospect available at that draft slot. This leaves the Chiefs as a wildcard two-thirds through the first round.

Over at NFL.com, four writers have the Chiefs heading in four different directions with their choice. Two have the Chiefs going offensive line, although they differ whether it’s a tackle (Anthony Costanzo) or an interior lineman (Mike Pouncey). Other choices include outside linebacker Akeem Ayers or defensive tackle Phil Taylor.

Todd McShay at ESPN has the Chiefs taking an outside linebacker, but he has Brooks Reed as the candidate instead of Ayers. Wes Bunting agrees that Phil Taylor is the choice in his mock at the National Football Post, but that’s after recently switching from Taylor.

In other words, there’s just no way of knowing what Scott Pioli is up to come draft day. Perhaps that means that enough candidates are there that the Chiefs would feel comfortable trading down and adding some choices. Maybe it will be one of the aforementioned players. There’s only one way to tell, however, and it will only come when the commissioner announces the draft choice on Thursday night.

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2011 NFL Draft: Chiefs Still Linked To NT Phil Taylor

Despite prognosticators for the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft saying the stock for Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor is sliding due to health concerns, the latest mock to emerge from draft guru Rick Gosselin says otherwise. Gosselin, of course, is not perfect, but he’s as researched as any journalist out there, and he’s perhaps the most sought-after NFL draft analyst for fans wanting an inside scoop.

If you’ll remember, Taylor’s stock has taken a hit due to medical reports about the bones in his feet growing together. The weight and pressure of a career in the defensive trenches allegedly concerned teams who could possibly take him. Then again, we should all remember by now that smoke and mirrors are the name of the game, so if there’s several reports slamming a kid, then one team most likely is trying to throw others off of his trail. Perhaps that team is the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gosselin’s latest mock is a needs-based one, so it’s hardly his prediction, yet the No. 21 spot is both where the Chiefs select and where Taylor’s stock is around its highest. The Chiefs also need some youth and size in the middle where incumbent starter Ron Edwards is the only holdover and even last year people thought it was a weakness. Another year in and Taylor looks even better.

The Chiefs could also go offensive line or outside linebacker here, but only time will tell whether Taylor’s draft stock was a volatile as some believed. Most likely, Taylor will be fine and the Chiefs might be the beneficiaries of such a pick. That’s what Gosselin seems to believe.

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2011 NFL Draft: Is NT Phil Taylor Sliding Down Chiefs Draft Board?

According to CBS Sports’ writer Rob Rang, Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor has some medical issues related to the bones in his feet that might keep him from being taken as high as some draft pundits have him currently positioned. Often linked to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 21 overall, Taylor’s draft stock seems to be plummeting.

The official report is that the bones in his feet are growing together, a possibly major concern for a player at his size. As Rang writes:

Taylor, according to MRIs taken at the Combine, has bones growing together in his feet. The condition, which according to the source is not correctable through surgery, is a pain tolerance issue. Considering that Taylor played much of his senior season at 330-340 pounds — and has allowed his weight to get into the 380s in the past — teams are concerned that his weight will only make the injury tougher to handle.

Peter King also reports on Taylor’s injury concern, saying that one team has even removed Taylor from their draft board entirely. Some teams go to such lengths so they don’t have to choose a player if they happen to be available and they’re the highest rated player. Then again, it seems a bit dramatic given that Taylor is a beast in the running game and has exactly the size many teams need in the middle.

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2011 NFL Mock Drafts Say Chiefs Go Offensive Tackle

The latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft from SB Nation has the Chiefs solidifying a position that's already proven quite capable, taking Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi at the No. 21 spot in the NFL Draft's first round.The Kansas City Chiefs led the NFL in rushing last season behind a line that many writers deemed subpar before the 2010 campaign began. By season's end, many opinions of Branden Albert and company had changed, and the additions of Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja proved positive.

Age concerns still linger, however, given Wiegmann's possible retirement (he has yet to officially announce). Brian Waters is 34-years-old and despite a recent Pro Bowl nod, there are concerns about his continued success. Right tackle would never be mistaken for a dominant spot on the roster, even though Barry Richardson stepped in and provided a serviceable job. Last year's third rounder Jon Asamoah remains as future help, so that's a start, but the Chiefs might have more holes here than some people think.

This is why SB Nation's Brian Galliford writes, "Phil Taylor is a very popular projection to the Chiefs, but it's tough to envision Scott Pioli liking Taylor's tape enough to take him this early. Carimi's as NFL-ready as they come at tackle, and could solidify the Chiefs' already-solid line immediately."

With Carimi stepping in on other side, the Chiefs immediately become more formidable against a much tougher schedule in 2011. A center is also needed, although lower round choices often yield starters at the position. If the Chiefs go with offensive lineman in the NFL Draft, some might scratch their heads given the rushing success, but a closer look reveals just how needed this might be.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Sticks With Akeem Ayers To Chiefs

In his latest mock draft, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the Kansas City Chiefs staying put at No. 21 with his last round projection of Akeem Ayers, outside linebacker from UCLA. Kiper's belief is that the Chiefs biggest need matching the talent available at the position comes at OLB, and certainly the case can be made that a young starter opposite Tamba Hali is prime among the need positions. Kiper comments:

Ayers surprised a lot of people with some mediocre workouts at the combine, given his reputation for athleticism, but he bounced back at his pro day. And as I've said before, the tape doesn't lie. This is a guy with the range of skills to help a team early. A good fit on the edge in the Chiefs' system, Ayers fills an obvious need at outside linebacker in the 3-4 and isn't just a pass-rusher. More in the Mike Vrabel mold, he can cover, rush and tackle well against the run.

After the recent legal issues with Mike Vrabel, it might be the perfect catalyst to turn the page from the storied veteran without any public backlash. But it seems the Chiefs were ready to address the position already, although the long-term deal with Andy Studebaker provides some relief already.

It should be noted the Chiefs have also been linked to outside linebackers and defensive tackles, two positions where prime players are still available at the same spot. Whether the candidate is Ayers or another rumored addition like Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi or Baylor DT Phil Taylor, it seems the Chiefs can't make a poor move in the first round.

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2011 NFL Mock Drafts Say Stephen Paea To Chiefs Again

The latest mock draft from SB Nation's Brian Galliford boomerangs back to predictable territory when it comes to the Chiefs pick at No. 21 in the first round. Most have the Chiefs addressing one of just a couple positions of need and Oregon's Stephen Paea certainly fills one of those at defensive tackle. Thus, Galliford's guess is a decent bet that might end up coming true in late April.

Galliford has Illinois defensive tackle Corey Luiget going one pick later and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson going at the end of the first round, so there are a few choices still available for the Chiefs at DT in this scenario. Yet Paea's freakish strength and potential might win Scott Pioli over. As he writes, "He's not a classic fit for the two-gap 3-4 that the Chiefs employ, but brutal strength and solid quicks will make him a nice fit as a nose guard in that scheme."

As usual in the draft, it comes down to the sway of potential versus on field results or technical fit. The Chiefs might be able to find a better fit from the outset, but Paea seems to hold the potential to develop into something really special along the defensive front. Given how players like Albert Haynesworth in the past and Ndamukong Suh in the present can change an entire game with their play, the Chiefs might have to gamble on the upside.

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New Mock Draft Points To Chiefs Taking Offensive Tackle

While some fans might scowl at Gabe Carimi being the Chiefs' choice in the upcoming NFL draft, SB Nation writer Brian Galliford believes it's a possibility given the perceived issues along Kansas City's offensive front. In the latest mock draft, the Chiefs take the Wisconsin offensive tackle at No. 21, bringing a solid bookend at a position that has seen quite the rotation.

If you remember last offseason, the Chiefs finally addressed the offensive interior with the addition of Ryan Lilja. Casey Wiegmann was also signed to bolster the center position, but that was mostly a one-year move and the answer there will most likely be drafted as well. However, the right side has always been in flux, with waiver claims like Ryan O'Callaghan or late-round choices like Barry Richardson manning the position. Before that, it was aging free agents like Damion McIntosh who were called upon to anchor the right side. None proved the long-term answer.

As Galliford writes, "Despite being one of the league's best running teams over the last two years, the Chiefs have had problems at right tackle. Carimi won't be an elite pass protector, but he brings stability and immediate impact to his position, and is a nice fit for an improving Chiefs offense."

This sounds eerily like the Bryan Bulaga pick for the Packers a year ago around the same draft position, and the results were positive there. Most fans envision a stronger linebacking corps or defensive tackle in the first round, but the offensive line is a possibility. Perhaps Carimi can become the long-term answer at the right tackle position.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Could Chiefs Reach For First Round Wide Receiver?

The latest rumors posted over at ESPN by AFC West writer Bill Williamson, the Chiefs could possibly look to address the severe drop off after Dwayne Bowe at the wide receiver position in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. Last season saw the Chiefs resign Chris Chambers in the hopes that he would provide a full season of what he brought in 2009. Unfortunately Chambers fell off and no other receiver stepped into the No. 2 role.

Rookie choice Dexter McCluster could be an answer at the slot position, but the Chiefs still lack another wideout to make defenses pay attention to the entire field. The Chiefs saw early in the playoffs how stacking the box and covering Bowe eliminated KC's ability to move the chains. With another strong option at receiver, the field would open wide for Matt Cassel and the ground game.

Williamson notes that the top two receivers are almost sure bets to be off the board at this time, with both Julio Jones and A.J. Green being highly rated as possible Top 10 choices. The Chiefs at No. 21 will struggle to grab either player unless they trade up, although he still writes, "I wouldn't be shocked if the Chiefs used a very high pick on a receiver. Kansas City is looking for a legitimate No. 2 receiver to pair with Dwayne Bowe."

Whether that very high pick is first or second round remains to be seen, but Tim Kavanagh lists players like Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson, Randall Cobb and Jonathan Baldwin who could all be under consideration.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Chiefs Possibly Selecting DT Stephen Paea

After a killer combine, it’s no surprise that the latest version of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft from SB Nation has Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea rising in draft rankings. The beneficiary this time around is the Kansas City Chiefs, currently sitting at No. 21 in the first round.

Paea set an NFL Combine record on the bench press with 49 reps at 225 pounds, an astounding number that speaks to the sheer strength of the Morris Trophy winner. He’s still raw in the eyes of several scouts and there’s lingering injury concerns that have some worried, but the Combine performance likely outweighed all of those doubts. As Brian Galliford writes:

A meniscus injury has many writing off Paea as a first-round possibility; that is misguided. Paea can flat-out play – and the strength on display in his bench workout has long made him a 3-4 nose possibility. He’s an upgrade over Ron Edwards.

It’s that last line where Galliford is dead-on. The Chiefs are average at best up the middle, which fails to free up your linebackers — the very aim in a 3-4 system. When you have dynamic and athletic talents like Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson available, you have to let them do their job. Paea would accomplish just that.

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2011 NFL Draft: Could Chiefs Benefit From Julio Jones Injury?

One of the larger holes on the Chiefs roster looms at wide receiver, where no second wideout stepped up to become a much needed target alongside Dwayne Bowe. As great as a season as Bowe enjoyed, there were also games where the opposing pass defense simply took him out of the game with no threat on the other side. Thus it’s not surprising that the Chiefs would want to fix the issue in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Given most draft predictions, the Chiefs would have to settle for the third best wide receiver at their current draft position of No. 21. Both Georgia wideout A.J. Green and Alabama product Julio Jones were expected to be gone in the first 10 or 15 choices, yet a recent development may change the game.

Yahoo’s Mark Miller notes, “He should be fully healed in eight weeks, but that is not going to help him with teams that want to draft players that are fully healthy and want as few question marks as possible.”

Perhaps this means that the Chiefs can benefit from Jones falling a few slots, making a complete slide to the Chiefs a possibility or at least a much easier trade target. Anything to adequately fill the hole across from Bowe.

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2011 NFL Draft: Replacing Mike Vrabel Is Key Says Mel Kiper

Mel Kiper, ESPN’s draft guru along with Todd McShay recently posted a column addressing veterans most likely to find an apprentice in this year’s draft, a la Aaron Rodgers being drafted to sit behind Brett Favre for a spell. For teams with depth, it’s a luxury to choose a player with high potential and let him learn from the storied veteran in place.

Mike Vrabel is one such player Kiper identifies as the key linebacker in this category, along with Arizona’s Joey Porter. Even with the extension signed by Andy Studebaker, many expect the Chiefs to address the OLB position early in April’s draft, so Kiper’s sentiments are hardly surprising. Here’s what he writes:

Vrabel is a stalwart in terms of his smarts and anticipation, while Porter always has been about getting to the quarterback. In both cases, these guys are well into their 30s and have made their money. It’s a need position for both teams, and the draft is stocked with top-end talent at this position. Both could address it early.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Phil Taylor Possible Chiefs First Rounder Given Senior Bowl Familiarity

The latest draft mock from WalterFootball.com comes from writer Greg Cox, who says the Chiefs proximity to the dominating performance of Phil Taylor gives the team a prime opportunity to fill any holes at defensive tackle. Given that many believe the position needs addressing anyway, this doesn’t sound so bad:

Two years ago I came up with a weird way to express why I thought the Chiefs should draft B.J. Raji to play nose tackle. “You can’t build a Ferrari with BMW parts,” I said. This was not meant to be a slight towards the Bavarian Motor Works vehicle. I just meant that if you want to install a 3-4, you need players who fit the system.

Scott Pioli used the third pick in the 2008 NFL Draft to take LSU’s Tyson Jackson and another early pick (third round) on Purdue’s Alex Magee who now plays for Tampa Bay. He needs a space eater in the middle of his defensive line. He was personally at the Senior Bowl and saw how well Taylor performed.

The only question left is whether or not a previous weight problem and being booted from Penn State will prevent him from being taken this early. Obviously I believe it is possible and would be a good move.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Possible Casey Wiegmann Retirement Changes Chiefs Direction

One year ago, you could have said the Chiefs were growing gray along the interior offensive line. They’d just signed center Casey Wiegmann at the end of his career arc. Brian Waters had served as a staple at left guard for several seasons. New free agent signee Ryan Lilja is in his late-twenties. For that reason, the Chiefs went out and grabbed OL Jon Asamoah in the 2010 draft.

Fast forward one year and nothing has changed. Wiegmann might be retiring, but Waters is still in place, Lilja is one year older and a bit more youth and developing talent is needed in place. For that reason, recent mocks have the Chiefs addressing the position with an early pick.

Some mocks, like the latest from CBS Sports, has the Chiefs grabbing Florida OL Mike Pouncey. Even Arrowhead Addict has the Chiefs taking Penn State center Stefen Wisniewski with their first pick. Either way, it seems writers are now leaning toward the interior offensive line.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Predictions Have Chiefs Addressing Nose Tackle

Many fans thought this would be the position the Chiefs would address in the first or second round last season, so it’s no surprise to find draft analysts predicting the Chiefs will once again focus on Nose Tackle. It’s a key position in the 3-4 and the Chiefs still have no young talent in the middle.

Ron Edwards is the current defensive tackle along with Shaun Smith, who also played a bit outside. There are some practice squad types, but no major draft investment yet… but that could change with this season’s draft. Mocking the Draft’s latest prediction is a bit of a reach for the position, but at least they admit it: Baylor’s Phil Taylor:

I am well aware that this might be a reach and that the Chiefs tend to shy away from character issues but I went this direction anyway. The Chiefs brass have shown (with Tyson Jackson) that they are not afraid to reach for a player if it fill a need and Taylor has the potential to be a dominate nose tackle.

This comes after other mocks have the Chiefs taking Oregon State's Stephen Paea or Iowa's Christian Ballard. Perhaps none of the three will be taken, but it shows once again that fans and pundits believe the Chiefs should finally address the position.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: OT Anthony Constanzo Latest Chiefs Mock Pick

Rob Rang of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com has his latest mock draft up, and it’s interesting considering what he has to say about the Chiefs selection. Instead of taking an impact player at pass rusher or wide receiver — which is what several mock drafts have the Chiefs taking — Rang has the Chiefs taking the developmental route.

Specifically, Anthony Castonzo is the choice — an offensive tackle from Boston College expected to make a mid-to-late first round splash. But instead of supplanting Branden Albert or Ryan O’Callaghan, Rang expects him to provide depth:

The Chiefs enjoyed better tackle play this year from Branden Albert and Ryan O’Callaghan, but the stellar performances of Kansas City’s skill-position players have hidden a lack of depth on the line. Castonzo’s athleticism and durability are enough to warrant a top 20 selection, but his moderate strength could push him lower. Not needed to play immediately, Castonzo could develop here.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Could Chiefs Address Defensive Line In First Round Again?

It might seem a ridiculous notion to some, especially those who’ve been watching the past several Chiefs drafts, but a new mock draft takes the 2011 Chiefs in an unexpected direction.

Instead of the typical pass rushing help or offensive line choice, the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report has the Chiefs taking some defensive line help. Not only that, but it’s another prospect from LSU — this time, Drake Nevis, defensive tackle.

Many will laugh given the Chiefs already have Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey from Louisiana State, but few would argue against the idea that the Chiefs need further help on their defensive front. And that’s exactly what BR is thinking:

Kansas City has a great young defense, mainly the secondary. It still needs more pressure up front. Although I think the offensive line could use insurance and they definitely need another wider receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe, I think the Chiefs would like to continue building their young defensive core to stop AFC West offensive threats like Philip Rivers and Darren McFadden.

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2011 NFL Draft: Mock Has Chiefs Taking Offensive Tackle Nate Solder

A few days ago, we highlighted the Chiefs draft position as a possibility for taking an offensive tackle or lineman, since draft values and boards should put them a bit lower than typical years where the best linemen go quite high. That’s good news for the Chiefs who have needs along the line and a lower draft position at No. 21.

Thus, it’s not surprising to see the latest SB Nation Mock Draft predicting a tackle for the Chiefs. This time around, the choice is Nate Solder, a beast at Colorado who really performed well in last week’s Senior Bowl.

Mocking the Draft has a lot more on Solder for those wanting detailed analysis, but their final word looks good for Chiefs fans:

A converted tight end, Solder remains a work in progress as a blocker. His technique is extremely raw and he’ll need a lot of refinement. With that, it’s surprising Solder has been as good as he’s been. A first team AP All-American in 2010, Solder has more upside than any early round lineman in this year’s draft.

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2011 NFL Draft: Georgia OLB Justin Houston Popular Prediction For Chiefs

Multiple mock drafts have the Chiefs grabbing an outside linebacker to complement the tremendous pass rush Tamba Hali provides on the other side. It’s a solid argument and given the expected run on pass rusher hybrids that could play either defensive end or outside linebacker around the Chiefs spot at No. 21, that’s not surprising.

The player most linked at that position — both on the field and in the draft — is Georgia’s Justin Houston, an incredible athlete who has a nose for the football and great instincts that consistently placed him behind the line of scrimmage and disrupting plays. In 2010, Houston had 18.5 tackles for loss to go with 10 sacks (second in SEC).

Some scouts question his make-up and motor, with Tom Melton saying that he runs too hot and cold. But Melton also thinks he’s a horrible fit in the 3-4 even though that’s the very scheme Georgia runs.

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