Which Kansas City Chiefs Will Make the Biggest 2nd-Year Leap?

Christopher AmickCorrespondent IJune 22, 2012

Which Kansas City Chiefs Will Make the Biggest 2nd-Year Leap?

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    A rookie campaign can sometimes be considered a mulligan for some football players.

    It's extremely difficult to adjust to the speed of the game at the NFL level, and the second season is where the cream starts to rise to the top.

    Nailing early draft picks is the way contenders are built, and the 2011 draft class members will be seeing plenty of playing time for the Chiefs.

    If these three second-year players can have great seasons, Kansas City will find themselves in the thick of the playoff race.

Jonathan Baldwin

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    This one is easy.

    Jonathan Baldwin was a first-round draft pick last year, so big things are expected in 2012.

    He showed some flashes of potential late last season after missing the first five games with an injury.

    The former Pitt Panther has all of the physical tools to become an elite receiver, and if he lives up to the hype, the Chiefs will have one of the best group of wideouts in the league.

    Baldwin will look to join Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston in hopes of giving quarterback Matt Cassel a variety of offensive weapons to work with.

    Bowe is a beast of man with deceptive speed for his size. He is locked in somewhat of a contract dispute, but he should be back in training camp.

    The real unsung hero of the group is Steve Breaston. Breaston was a do-everything playmaker who converted many key third downs last season.

    The key is Baldwin, and if he can develop into a deep threat, the Chiefs offense will be outstanding.

Rodney Hudson

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    Rodney Hudson has the tough task of filling in for the steady Casey Weigmann at center.

    Hudson has the pedigree, but the shoes that he is stepping into are mighty big.

    Wiegmann started in 175 consecutive games during his career, and was a leader on every offensive line he was a part of.

    He identified all of the fronts and made the calls at the line of scrimmage. Coach Romeo Crennel told the Kansas City Star that he is expecting Hudson to do the same.

    "That’s part of this offseason program, that’s our job to coach him to recognize the fronts, make the IDs, and then to be able to block the correct guy and do it at an efficient level"

    If Hudson can come in an play at an adequate level, the offensive line should be much improved. The Chiefs signed premier tackle Eric Winston this offseason, and thankfully Winston will be replacing the horrible Barry Richardson.

    The other pieces are there for Kansas City's O-line to become a young and solid group. Rodney Hudson will be a big part of that.

Justin Houston

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    Justin Houston slipped in last year's draft because of a reported failed drug test. The Chiefs selected him in the third round, and if the second half of last season is any indication of what will come, Kansas City got an absolute steal.

    The Chiefs were desperate for an edge rusher outside of linebacker Tamba Hali, and mercifully Houston looks to have come to the rescue.

    Houston finished the season with six sacks and 13 quarterback hurries after he forced himself into the lineup.

    He also played the run pretty well, and should consistently harass opposing right tackles in 2012, which will benefit Hali greatly.