David DeCastro or Luke Kuechly. Those were the two names most bandied about by mock analysts leading up to last weekend's 2012 NFL Draft in which the Kansas City Chiefs eschewed both the linebacker and guard positions in the first round to take defensive tackle Dontari Poe from Memphis. While the Chiefs ended up picking a guard in the next round in Jeff Allen from Illinois, the linebacker position was completely left untouched.
That has to say something about the perception of a weakness there compared to how the front office feels. Justin Houston, Jovan Belcher, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali are the current starters in the Chiefs 3-4 defense. Of course, that base defense is often mixed up with sub-packages, so the oft-held ideas of starters being on the field for all three downs and then special teams is a misnomer. But it's Belcher's interior position in particular that had people wondering whether Kuechly or Dont'a Hightower were going to be the next Chiefs LB.
Eli Kaberon writes, "By not adding to the linebacking corps, the team showed great confidence that Belcher, a solid but far from spectacular veteran, and Houston, a second-year player who came on strong at the end of '11, can play well for a defense that is expected to take a major step forward this fall."
One point that the Pro Football Weekly writer misses in his column is that Brandon Siler is also a part of the equation. The former San Diego Chargers player was brought in last off-season but missed the entire year due to injury. So much attention is paid on the bigger names that also missed 2011 -- Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki -- that Siler is often forgotten. But the team re-upped with Siler and he brings an added dimension. Apparently Scott Pioli believes it's enough.
The Chiefs will have a strong defense again in 2012 under Romeo Crennel's leadership, but it will be interesting to note if the linebackers should have been addressed or whether they just needed room to grow.