With the 2012 NFL draft almost here we're going to take a look at the Chiefs roster on the offensive side as it stands today, and try and figure out where a couple of key additions might help this team moving forward.
The Chiefs did a fantastic job in free agency by adding three key players on offense. They got Eric Winston, Kevin Boss and Peyton Hillis to help this offense try and be more efficient than it was during a poor 2011 season. The Chiefs obviously made it a priority this off-season to bulk up the offensive side of the football. The question is whether or not they are done adding to that side of the ball, at least in regards to what they do with that first-round pick.
Many people believe the Chiefs won't pass up a certain guard from Stanford at No.11. While others believe that trading back is the best option. Here's a look at each of the Chiefs positional groups on offense and where they stand as of today.
The signing of Eric Winston opened the Chiefs draft up more than anyone could possibly imagine. The right tackle position was far and away the biggest hole on the Chiefs roster and they not only filled that spot, they did a complete 180 and made it a strength of the team. In my personal opinion, Winston will end up being the best free agent pickup in Pioli's tenure with the Chiefs. He's that good and the Chiefs were that desperate at that spot.
So while Winston is now holding down the right tackle spot, there's another new member of the Chiefs offensive line that will be just as important. Former second-round pick from last season, Rodney Hudson, will most likely take over as the starting center for the Chiefs. Hudson did see some time at guard last season due to some injuries along the line, but he was drafted to be the future starting center for this team. He should open the season as the starting center.
The returning starters would be left tackle Branden Albert, who had a very underrated 2011 season, and Jon Asamoah, who graded out as an above-average right guard in his first year starting last season. That leaves just one starting position that the Chiefs could be looking at upgrading with this upcoming draft along the offensive line. Ryan Lilja had a disappointing season in 2011 and the fact that this is a contract-year for him leads people to believe that the Chiefs would be looking at an upgrade at that spot.
This is where the David DeCastro talk begins. DeCastro is thought-to-be the best guard prospect to come along in a while and the idea that we could upgrade that spot with him makes sense. There is the argument out there that guards just don't have the type of impact in the game that warrants a top 15 pick in the draft, and that's why you don't see it very often. I think Chiefs fans were happy with Will Shields and even he was a third-rounder. The Chiefs wouldn't be hurt to take DeCastro at No. 11 because he's a good player, potentially a great player and is looked at as a safe pick.
The Chiefs will need to bring in some offensive lineman in this draft at some point though because the depth is very thin. They've got Darryl Harris, Rob Bruggeman, David Mims as the only depth players right now under contract for next season. They have unrestricted free agents Casey Wiegmann, Barry Richardson and Ryan O' Callaghan that are out there too. Wiegmann is thought to be retiring along with O' Callaghan, and Barry Richardson could be brought back in a strictly back-up role sense.
Look for the Chiefs to make a move in the first three rounds of the draft to bring in some interior offensive line help. Depending upon how they feel about David Mims' development at this point, there could also be an offensive tackle taken at some point in this draft as well.
The Chiefs filled a big spot in the signing of running back Peyton Hillis. With Jamaal Charles coming back from an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2011 season. It was imperative that the Chiefs brought in a quality running back that could share the load, and take more of a headlining role should Charles need to be brought back slowly. Hillis had his best season of his career when he was playing for the Cleveland Browns alongside new Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
The Chiefs could look to bring in another running back in this draft but don't look for it to be in the first four rounds. With Charles, Hillis and a sprinkling of Dexter McCluster there aren't a lot of carries to be had. But a late-round guy that proves his worth to contribute on special teams might make sense as running back is a position that you always need a guy ready.
The Chiefs also have Shaun Draughn as a developmental running back already under contract for next season as well.
The tight-end position is one that looks to be pretty solid right now for the Chiefs. They are getting Tony Moeaki back from an ACL injury that cost him the 2011 season, as well as the newly signed Kevin Boss. They've got Jake O' Connell and then Steve Maneri, who has officially changed to a tight-end from offensive tackle, also under contract heading into next season. Maneri is strictly a goal-line, power running type tight-end and his role is very specific, therefore I don't see the Chiefs necessarily drafting a guy to take his particular spot. With four tight-ends already under contract for 2012 I feel as if this is one position we might ignore heading into this draft.
One of the bigger questions of this off-season will start to become whether or not the Chiefs are going to reach a contract extension agreement with their franchise-tagged wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe. They have until July 15th to reach an agreement or they'll have to wait until the last week of the regular season per the new CBA rules.
Besides Bowe, the Chiefs have questions surrounding Jonathan Baldwin, the uber-talented second-year wide receiver that had the misfortune of not getting a regular off-season last year due to the lockout, but then missed a huge chunk of the beginning of the season because of a thumb injury that allegedly occurred during a locker room scuffle with veteran running back, Thomas Jones. He's going to be counted on heavily to provide the down-field threat that goes along with Dwayne Bowe's across the middle, possession wide receiver make-up.
Then you've got Steve Breaston, Terrance Copper, Jeremy Horne, Zeke Markshausen and Jamar Newsome as players under contract for next year at the wide receiver position. Breaston is going to be a factor in the Chiefs offense next season while Copper and Horne will continue to show their special teams' ability in order to keep their spot intact. Look for the Chiefs to grab a receiver in the middle rounds of the upcoming draft.
Then you've got the quarterback position. There are already three guys under contract heading into next year with Matt Cassel, Ricky Stanzi and Brady Quinn. The Chiefs don't want to put themselves in the kind of position that they did last year with Tyler Palko-being the worst backup in football since the dude with glasses in Necessary Rougness calling for the refs to "Blow the whistle! blow the whistle! blow! the! whistle!".
Therefore they brought in a veteran quarterback in Brady Quinn that has some experience with Romeo Crennel from their time with the Cleveland Browns together. In my opinion, they wouldn't head into the 2012 season with an unproven player at the backup quarterback position. While Quinn isn't a proven player in the sense of a guy who is serious competition for Matt Cassel as the starter, but he is better than Tyler Palko and therefore we've already upgraded the spot.
I don't believe the Chiefs are going to draft a quarterback unless it's really late in the draft and they plan on putting him on the practice squad. They won't cut Ricky Stanzi and they won't head into next season with Stanzi and a rookie competing for the backup spot. That's not enough of a guarantee against having a backup quarterback situation that could in anyway resemble what happened last season with an unproven player. If they were already comfortable with the idea of Stanzi being the backup, then why sign Quinn? I don't think they were and I don't think you'll see them take a quarterback next week in the draft.
This was a look at the Chiefs roster on offense as it stands today. We'll take a look in a couple of days at the defensive side of the ball and try and figure out where the Chiefs might look to add there.