Grading the Strength of Each Position on Chiefs' Roster Heading into Free Agency

Jeremy Sickel@ IIIFebruary 9, 2013

Grading the Strength of Each Position on Chiefs' Roster Heading into Free Agency

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    Coming off the worst season in franchise history, the Kansas City Chiefs enter the offseason needing to find answers to assure that a repeat doesn't occur in 2013. Free agency is the first opportunity in that process.

    Free agency is only one step, as the draft also gives teams another chance to find impact contributors and to fill out their rosters in areas that lack depth. Identifying those areas early, however, is why this period during the offseason is so vital.

    For a team that finished 2012 with a 2-14 record, the Chiefs seem to be in a favorable position moving forward in most spots. The reason for the lack of success is because of a severe lack of depth and underperformance at the most important positions.

    Use this grading scale to see where Kansas City stands in advance of free agency.


    Grading Scale

    A—No Addition Needed

    BDepth Needed

    CMinor/Bargain Addition Needed

    DDepth, Minor/Bargain Addition Needed

    FImpact Starter, Depth Needed, Minor/Bargain Addition Needed


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    The Kansas City Chiefs got horrible play out of the quarterback position last season, which is the primary source of their subpar campaign.

    Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn played musical chairs under center, while combining for only 2,987 yards and eight touchdowns. The two quarterbacks collectively turned the football over 30 times as well.

    Third-stringer Ricky Stanzi never saw the field.

    With only Cassel and Stanzi signed for 2013, the Chiefs will obviously need to bring in a couple quarterbacks to simply fill out the roster. If Kansas City plans on righting the ship, however, those additions better come ready to play.

    Position Grade: F 

Running Back

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    Running back Jamaal Charles surprised most with how well he was able to perform just one year removed from ACL surgery. Aside from him, however, the Kansas City Chiefs got little out of his backfield mates.

    Peyton Hillis was brought in as the thunder to Charles' lightning, but he never caught traction in Kansas City. Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray were used sparingly off the bench at the back end of the depth chart.

    Hillis is the only one of the group not signed for the upcoming season.

    While it will be interesting to see just what the Chiefs have in Draughn and Gray—in addition to how new head coach Andy Reid uses Dexter McCluster—Kansas City must find a viable complement to Charles in the backfield.

    Position Grade: C

Wide Receiver

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    The Kansas City Chiefs had two former first-round picks (Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin), a reliable veteran (Steve Breaston) and a jack-of-all-trades weapon (Dexter McCluster) scattered about their wide receiver depth chart in 2012.

    A quick glance at the stat sheet, however, would have you convinced that this group was nothing but an standard assortment of average wideouts.

    Baldwin has been a bust in his two years in the NFL, and Breaston was held out of action for most of the season.

    All but Bowe are signed into at least next season, and the Chiefs would still like to see what they have in Devon Wylie—who spent most of the season on the sidelines due to injury. But this team must bring in viable wide receivers to work under Andy Reid's version of the West Coast offense.

    Whether it is retaining Bowe or another top-tier receiver, Kansas City must address this position with heightened attention this offseason.

    Position Grade: F

Tight End

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    Tight end looked to be a position of strength heading into the 2012 season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss were supposed to have provided the team a solid one-two punch.

    Instead, Boss missed all but two games of the season with a severe concussion, and Moeaki never caught much traction with shaky quarterback play and various injuries as well. These two are the only tight ends signed for the upcoming season.

    With Boss' future up in the air and Moeaki still trying to shed the fragile label, the Chiefs will be forced to add depth in this spot this offseason.

    While a big name isn't expected to pop up, the status of Boss will dictate how much attention Kansas City pays to the position during free agency.

    Position Grade: C

Offensive Line

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    The Kansas City Chiefs seemingly did a fantastic job of adding starters and depth across the offensive line last offseason.

    Eric Winston was brought in to anchor the right tackle spot, complementing Branden Albert at left tackle. And the Chiefs used second- and third-round draft picks on Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson to provide viable backups at key spots.

    An early injury to center Rodney Hudson forced Kansas City's line to shift, ultimately adding to the team's inconsistencies on offense.

    Ryan Lilja is retiring, and the Chiefs have a big question to answer with Albert, who is a free agent for the first time in his career.

    Even if the Chiefs let Albert walk, it is unlikely they will find his replacement on the open market—instead utilizing the draft in that spot. Kansas City does need to restock the cupboard across the entire line, however.

    This grade all hinges on Albert's future in Kansas City.

    Position Grade: D

Defensive Line

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    There is no shortage of big names across the defensive line of the Kansas City Chiefs, as Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe are all former first-round draft picks. The production, however, has been slow to catch up—though the jury is still out on Poe.

    Dorsey is a free agent this offseason.

    Jerrell Powe, Allen Bailey and Anthony Toribio will all be under contract next season, along with Jackson and Poe. And Ropati Pitoitua played well enough to warrant a second season in Kansas City.

    The key for the Chiefs here is to bring in a viable pass-rushing threat to take the pressure off linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

    The fanbase might not be warm to another defensive lineman drafted with a high pick. Free agency should be filled with plenty of names to ponder here for the Chiefs.

    Position Grade: D


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    At face value, the Kansas City Chiefs are loaded at linebacker with three Pro Bowlers in Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Depth could be a concern here, though, and this team must find a dependable player to line up next to Johnson on the inside.

    While it may not be top priority, having a solid contributor in all four spots at the second level could be a huge plus for the Chiefs moving forward.

    Consistency from certain spots on the field allows that many more opportunities for the playmakers around them to do what they do best: make plays.

    With Houston and Hali on the edge wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, a veteran—who knows, and is comfortable with his job—could be the way to go here.

    Position Grade: D

Defensive Back

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    The Kansas City Chiefs let cornerback Brandon Carr walk in free agency last offseason. It ended up being a terrible decision, as Stanford Routt was released midseason, and Jalil Brown and Javier Arenas struggled to complement the position opposite of Brandon Flowers.

    Eric Berry looked a bit rusty coming off ACL surgery, and Kendrick Lewis was slowed by a shoulder injury—which could have been the cause of his inability to finish off tackles.

    The Chiefs will need to use both free agency and the draft to add at least two starters in the defensive backfield. Depth will be of concern here too.

    Other than quarterback, this area requires the most attention this offseason.

    Position Grade: F

Special Teams

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    If not for Jamaal Charles, punter Dustin Colquitt—who is a free agent—would have been the MVP of the Kansas City Chiefs this past season. And kicker Ryan Succop has a nice contract that should keep him around through 2016.

    Long snapper Thomas Gafford is also a free agent.

    There is no way the Chiefs let Colquitt walk after a record-breaking year, so there is no need there. And Gafford will be rather inexpensive for the consistency he provides to this unit, so Kansas City should be set here come next season.

    Return specialists will come from other positions that were previously discussed.

    Position Grade: A


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