Kansas City Chiefs: Post-Draft Position Battles to Expect This Summer
Now that the draft is officially over, Chiefs fans are curious to see which rookie can make an impact or challenge another player on the team early in their career. It is time to revisit the slideshow and update the list by touching up or adding some position battles.
Backup Quarterback Position: Ricky Stanzi and Brady Quinn
Several Chiefs fans were hoping to have a rookie quarterback on this list, and were disappointed in learning that the Chiefs did not draft a quarterback. Perhaps Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli knew that drafting a quarterback this year would ruin the purpose of drafting Ricky Stanzi the year before.
Both Stanzi and Brady Quinn are entering the 2012 season without taking a single snap the previous season.
Stanzi was inactive for a majority of the 2012 as Matt Cassel and Tyler Palko were ahead on the depth chart. Quinn was part of the Denver Broncos and watched Tim Tebow when he took over as the starter. Both Stanzi and Quinn, coincidentally, backed up Kyle Orton as Orton went from playing for the Denver Broncos to the Chiefs in the span of one season.
This year, it is likely that both players get some playing time. But only one quarterback will get more playing time as the designated backup quarterback.
Both players also had successful college careers and are working on making progress in the NFL. Because of Quinn's experience, he may have the upper hand in this position battle.
Projected winner: Brady Quinn
Stanzi is a young quarterback who only played in the preseason, while Quinn has been in the league longer and has started in the past.
Starting Running Back Position: Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis
Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis missed 20 games combined last season, and both running backs will work together to bounce back this year.
The two running backs are different, as Charles is a scatback who can make a move behind the offensive tackles while Hillis is a powerback who can break free through the middle.
Kansas City must make sure that, no matter who gets the starting call, Charles will lead the team in carries. The Chiefs must avoid allowing a second-place rusher lead the team in carries if the player behind him has over 1,000 yards.
Projected winner: Peyton Hillis
Hillis will probably start most of the game, but it will be Charles who leads the team in carries and yards. The two backs will see a lot of time this year, if healthy.
Backup Running Back Position: Dexter McCluster and Cyrus Gray (R)
Dexter McCluster has had two different seasons as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his first year, he found himself a little bit more active in the receiving department as Charles and Jones were healthy in 2010. Last season, the Chiefs were hit with a brutal injury as they lost Charles early in the season while Jones struggled to to find the end zone all season.
Among the three active rushers, McCluster finished second in yards and had the highest yard per carry average on the team.
The Chiefs now have Cyrus Gray coming from Texas A&M and will get some action this season as teams in the NFL today work with multiple running backs. The question is, what will McCluster's primary role be next season?
Projected winner: Dexter McCluster
I know I did the same thing with the backup quarterback spot, but McCluster has more experience and has the potential with great speed, but must live up to it. The Chiefs seem to be busy at receiver, so most of McCluster's time might be seen at running back on offense.
No. 2 Wide Receiver Spot: Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston
Jonathan Baldwin made room for Steve Breaston after an off-the-field injury sidelined him early in the season.
When Baldwin missed five games, Breaston stepped up and finished second on the team in receiving yards with 785— no other receiver came close to Breaston. He also finished second on the team among all pass-catchers in receptions and touchdowns.
Baldwin will enter his sophomore season more focused after learning that he can't allow his professional career to be set back over a small incident.
Projected winner: Jonathan Baldwin
Matt Cassel liked what he got to see in Baldwin in the second half of the season, and hopes to see more of that now that teams will have OTAs and can go into training camp better prepared. Breaston will still be one of Cassel's active targets, with Dwayne Bowe being the top receiver.
Starting Tight End Position: Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss
Tony Moeaki was ready to break through in 2011, after a stellar rookie season as he helped fans get over the departure of Tony Gonzalez. But an injury in the preseason finale in Green Bay kept Moeaki away from the field during the regular season.
Signing Kevin Boss was a smart move by Pioli, as it adds depth and will help Moeaki ease his way back into football after not playing regular or postseason game since January 9, 2011.
Projected winner: Kevin Boss
Moeaki has dealt with many injuries and has to learn to take a slow approach. That is where Boss comes into play. He will take some of Moeaki's duties until he has made the smooth transition back as a full-time starter and can prove that he will stay healthy.
Backup Offensive Tackle Position: Jeff Allen (R) and Donald Stephenson (R)
The Chiefs ended the regular season with eight offensive linemen active on the 53-man roster. The Chiefs had David Mims and Steve Maneri as the backup offensive tackles, while Rodney Hudson was behind the guards and the center.
This year, the Chiefs will have rookies Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson as their backups at the offensive line. With two linemen taken early in the draft, the Chiefs hope that their offensive line won't move back if injuries take place.
Projected winner: Jeff Allen
Allen's versatility is what will allow him to be the top reserve offensive lineman for the Chiefs. It is likely that both of these rookie linemen get playing time on special teams with the field goal unit, with a little bit action with the offense.
Backup Nose Tackle Position: Jerrell Powe and Jerome Long (R)
Jerrell Powe and Jerome Long were both selected very late in the draft, with Powe entering the league in 2011 while Long was drafted this past weekend.
Powe did not play a lot in the 3-4 defense with Kelly Gregg getting a majority of the time. But fans now know that these two will be playing behind Dontari Poe instead.
Powe collected five sacks together during his time at Ole Miss, while Long had 8.5 sacks at San Diego State.
Projected winner: Jerome Long
Fans seemed to be very excited for Powe when he was taken last year, but the Chiefs didn't play him very much last year. Long could be Kansas City's top option if Poe is unavailable for a game.
Special Teams Returner: Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas and Devon Wylie (R)
It appeared at first that McCluster and Javier Arenas would battle for the primary special teams return spot, but the Chiefs have added Devon Wylie, and he should automatically be in consideration with the speed he brings.
McCluster's only moment on special teams came on his debut, while Arenas has had a couple of flashes and nothing more. Both returners are different in their own ways, but have not lived up to the expectations of a second-round draft pick.
Wylie might get some time as a receiver, but what could the Chiefs be in for if they let him take back kickoffs and punts?
Projected winner: Devon Wylie
McCluster has potential, as I said before, but he and Arenas have had two seasons to prove themselves and have not been able to do much. That is not to say that these two won't see any time on special teams. They still will. Going into Week 1, we may see Wylie start things off for the Chiefs. This also allows McCluster to focus on offense and Arenas to focus on cornerback.