Dontari Poe, Jeff Allen receive solid grades and playing time in rookie season

Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

The Kansas City Chiefs are giving their top two draft picks plenty of playing time in 2012, and the team is being rewarded for the decision.

There are two stories that you are not talking about, hearing about or reading about concerning the Kansas City Chiefs. By definition, it makes them a non-story. But given the players in those positions, it's definitely something to not only discuss but celebrate if you're a Chiefs fan.

But if you look closely, there are two areas that should/could be bigger problems than they actually are for the Chiefs: defensive tackle and the interior of the offensive line. Look even closer and you'll discover the solution to those issues are the top rookies in the 2012 Chiefs draft class.

Dontari Poe was expected to be a project pick, and he was seated behind Anthony Toribio heading into the season. Yet an early injury forced Toribio to the side. The Chiefs never made a roster move to help bring someone in. Instead it was Jerrell Powe and Poe working together to plug the space. And since then the Chiefs still have yet to bring someone in.

The reason is that Poe is earning solid marks for his play along the line. Even just this week, Crennel had no problem with a comparison to Richard Seymour.

"I hope it turns out that way," said Crennel. "Yeah, I really do because he has that kind of ability. He just doesn't have the height."

The same can be said along the offensive interior. When Casey Wiegmann did not return to the Chiefs as the starting center, it was clear that Rodney Hudson would be handed the keys to the position. Yet Hudson went down early in the year and the move forced the Chiefs to adjust quickly.

Ryan Lilja moved to center in the middle of a game and has never looked back. That move vacated the left guard position, a position that the team was hopeful that Allen could learn for a year behind Lilja and others as he acclimated to the pro level. Such luxuries were gone, however, with Hudson's season-ending placement on Injured Reserve. Yet the Chiefs have been just fine with Allen at the helm.

In the midst of a year of turnover and new players and coaches, the Chiefs have the second ranked offensive line in the league so far in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. While the metrics are debatable, the fact that it's even a strength with Hudson going down, Lilja shifting, and Allen stepping up is a testament to the rookies.

While it's been a frustrating season for the Chiefs in many ways, Scott Pioli and the rest of the Chiefs front office deserves credit for finding players who can play at a high level and do so immediately. The idea that these guys will only improve that much more with a lot of playing experience in their first year will also reap major dividends down the road.

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