When organizations are in a position to draft the best available player when their number is called in the first round, it usually indicates they are a well-rounded team with little to no holes.
But in recent memory, the Kansas City Chiefs have been forced to apply all of their draft picks to fill major gaps on its roster. This has caused them to pass on certain players that have become stars in the NFL or stretch on some that have long been forgotten.
However, it seems as though the winds are changing in Kansas City with recent drafts considered some of the most successful in team history.
Since 2008, the Chiefs have drafted 12 players—still with the team—expected to either start or challenge for a starting spot in 2012. That is a direct testament to the culture change in Kansas City that has put them in the position to draft the way that winning organizations do.
With the 11th pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Chiefs will have their fair share of quality players to choose from. And although they do have a few glaring needs—namely inside linebacker and defensive tackle—the Chiefs are in a position to fortify the most important group of players on the field.
When the Chiefs have been successful recently, they thrived with an offensive line that had no weaknesses throughout. Having drafted Branden Albert in 2008 to anchor the left tackle position, the Chiefs complemented him with a bookend this offseason by signing former Houston Texans right tackle Eric Winston.
The Chiefs' model of success is obviously predicated on running the football. But with a substandard offensive line, coupled with an ACL injury that ended Jamaal Charles' season early last year, the Chiefs fell back towards the middle of the pack in rushing compared to a 2010 in which they finished as the top running team in the league.
To guarantee that type of drop off doesn't happen again, the Chiefs need to find another leader along the line akin to Will Shields; someone to anchor the interior and provide the type of leadership that Shields did throughout his career.
Look no further than Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro.
Having played in a pro-style offense throughout his college career at Stanford, DeCastro is already familiar with certain NFL nuances. This gives him the ability to come right in and just familiarize himself with the organization.
Although not considered a great athlete, being ahead of the curve will be a huge advantage for DeCastro, allowing him to come in and become familiar with his surroundings rather than deal with the normal pressures of being an NFL rookie.
DeCastro is known for his tremendous work ethic, which adds to his sound technique across the board. Although he very seldom gets beat in pass protection, he excels in all aspects of run blocking.
For the Chiefs to retain their image of having a vaunted rushing attack, they need to create the continuity they had across the offensive line when Shields, Willie Roaf and Brian Waters were opening holes for the likes of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.
The continued improvement of Albert is imperative towards that goal, along with the signing of Winston. But bringing in DeCastro will immediately turn what has been considered a weakness over the past few seasons into a source of strength as the Chiefs look to take back the AFC West crown.
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