2012 NFL Draft: 5 Players That Should Be on the Kansas City Chiefs' Radar
With the 2012 NFL draft fast approaching, Kansas City Chiefs fans are filled with tentative optimism, due to recent high picks either being complete busts (Ryan Sims in 2002) or those on which the jury is still out (Tyson Jackson in 2009).
The draft serves many purposes for teams on a year to year basis, whether they are in the position to take the best available player overall, the best player at a position of need, or, in the recent case of the Chiefs, to fill multiple holes left by poor execution with previous high profile picks.
That trend could disappear quickly if the Chiefs can re-sign 2007 first round pick Dwayne Bowe to be their No. 1 receiving threat for the foreseeable future, and if 2008 first-round picks left tackle Branden Albert and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey continue to make natural progressions in their on-field development. The jury is still out on 2010 first-round pick Eric Berry, whose 2011 season ended before it even began, after a very promising rookie campaign.
Although the Chiefs’ fortunes in the draft look to be on the uptick, they are still in the position of selecting players to fill multiple holes throughout its roster.
Here are five players in the 2012 NFL draft that could be impact players for the Chiefs during the 2012 NFL season and beyond.
David DeCastro, Offensive Guard, Stanford
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After finishing the 2010 season ranked first in the NFL in rushing, the Kansas City Chiefs were looking to build on that success last season. That is until running back Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in the second game of the season.
Charles’ injury—along with inconsistent play across the offensive line, an aging Thomas Jones, an inexperienced Jackie Battle and a smallish Dexter McCluster—resulted in the Chiefs falling back towards the middle of the pack running the football.
Since then, the Chiefs have signed former Houston Texans right tackle Eric Winston to a long-term contract to complement left tackle Albert, and are encouraged by the progress of Charles as well. But when the Chiefs were successful running the football in the early 2000s, the offensive line was a well-rounded group featuring guard Will Shields as its leader.
Stanford guard David DeCastro fits this mold quite well, having played in a pro-style offense throughout his college career. Although not viewed as a great athlete, DeCastro is considered the safest pick, outside of Andrew Luck, from a spectacular Stanford draft class.
Known for his tremendous work ethic, DeCastro’s technique is sound, which prevents him from getting beat in pass blocking assignments. But DeCastro’s bread and butter is run blocking, whether in power, zone or on the move.
If the Chiefs want to put the lack of a rushing attack in 2011 in the rear view mirror and mimic their success from previous seasons, DeCastro is an obvious choice to consider.
Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
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Talk of the Kansas City Chiefs drafting a defensive tackle anywhere in the draft always makes fans cringe, especially if it is by way of a first-round pick. But the failure of the organization’s brass to evaluate talent at that position leaves the Chiefs in a constant jumble to try to find their guy to plug the middle of the defensive line.
Thus far, the Chiefs have been unsuccessful in attracting a big name defensive tackle via the free agent route, leaving their options pointing towards the draft once again.
Although the preference would be to go the “safe” route, it might be difficult to overlook Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
Poe’s combine workout is of legendary status, and although his college statistics aren’t spectacular, which comes with the territory of the position that he plays, he gets a pass for that.
The knock on Poe is that he has gotten by thus far on ability alone, which brings on questions about his drive. The Chiefs have been here before with Tyson Jackson, but those concerns must be addressed on an individual basis.
The selection of Poe will either be a home run or strike three looking, which the Chiefs and their fans have been accustomed to in regards to drafting defensive lineman recently. But the addition of such an imposing figure in the middle of the line could go a long way towards the development of this young defense.
Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker, Boston College
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Since the Kansas City Chiefs moved to the 3-4 defense, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson has shown flashes of greatness, doing so without a true complement in the middle of the linebacking corps.
Bringing in a more traditional inside linebacker to allow Johnson to showcase his natural athletic ability will help bolster their run defense, while providing the ability to get more creative against the pass.
Inside Linebacker Luke Kuechly, out of Boston College, is considered the top inside linebacker in this year’s draft and would fit nicely in the middle of the Chiefs’ defense.
Although not considered an elite athlete, Kuechly has a knack for being around the football, as shown by his 532 career tackles in just three seasons at Boston College. He is a sure tackler whose strengths will allow him to be a great run stuffing middle linebacker.
Although he is a smart player who will put in all the work to keep getting better, Kuechly’s deficiencies lie in pass coverage. This makes him a perfect fit to man the middle along with Johnson, as their respective strengths will balance out their perceived weaknesses.
Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina
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Although the Chiefs like what they have seen out of outside linebacker Justin Houston so far, the chance to upgrade opposite of Tamba Hali should always be a top consideration.
The Chiefs will have a throng of options regarding positions of need with the 11th pick in the 2012 NFL draft. But if they decide to go the route of outside linebacker, Melvin Ingram out of South Carolina would be a solid choice.
Although Ingram is said to be slow off the snap, he possesses good closing speed, strength and an overall athletic ability that masks his minimal weaknesses.
With Hali on the other side, Ingram would simply just need to do his job in the system to be considered successful in this league. But with the tools he possesses, the 3-4 defense featured by the Chiefs could elevate Ingram into a Pro Bowl-type player for years to come.
Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
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With all the big names off of the board early in the first round, coupled with their failed attempt to sign Peyton Manning, it is time for the Kansas City Chiefs to invest a higher pick (second round in this case) in the quarterback position.
There will be a few signal-callers to choose from after the top three—Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill—are taken, and no one name sticks out anymore than the rest. But Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins could be just what the Chiefs need for their long-term answer under center.
Cousins’ leadership (three-year team captain with the Spartans), along with his ability to learn and run a pro-style offense fits well with how the Chiefs want to run their own offense under the current regime.
Lack of arm strength in most situations seems to be the biggest knock on Cousins. But his willingness to learn and work, along with the Chiefs' offensive agenda, could be a great two-year project for Crennel and Co. to partake in.