Chiefs Must Draft Defense After Re-Signing Bowe and Tagging Albert
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In advance of a 2013 draft class full of defensive talent, the Kansas City Chiefs have successfully put themselves in a position to avoid having to address offensive needs with the first overall selection. This was made possible by engineering a trade for quarterback Alex Smith, re-signing wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and putting the franchise tag on left tackle Brandon Albert.
The moves the Chiefs have made in the past week have gone a long way in torpedoing the predictions of those anticipating the team would reach for quarterback Geno Smith or ignore obvious needs at defensive tackle, cornerback and inside linebacker by selecting left tackle Luke Joeckel.
Now with Alex Smith, Bowe and Albert all in the fold, draft experts are frantically revisiting their mock drafts attempting to figure out what rabbit hole general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid will send them down next.
What people have been ignoring all along is that the Chiefs have glaring needs at three defensive positions, one of which the Chiefs must address with the first overall pick.
Priority 1: Defensive End
Lotulelei's ability to stuff the run and pressure the quarterback make him the ideal fit for the Chiefs defensive line
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While many Chiefs fans choose to ignore the team's 30 years of draft failures when it comes to selecting a quarterback, none of them want the team to pick yet another defensive lineman after two failed selections in Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson.
Dorsey, who is a free agent the Chiefs will not attempt to re-sign, will likely join a team that runs a 4-3 as a defensive tackle after playing out of position at 3-4 end for the Chiefs. Jackson is due to count $17.4 million against the cap this season and will join Dorsey in shopping for a new team if he doesn't agree to renegotiate his deal.
That leaves the Chiefs in dire need of at least one defensive end, and if Utah's Star Lotulelei gets a clean bill of health, he should almost certainly be the Chiefs selection in round one. Lotulelei, Missouri's Sheldon Richardson and SMU's Margus Hunt would be ideal fits for the Chiefs defense, but only Lotulelei is worthy of the top overall pick.
If the Chiefs do decide to go in another direction in round one, the team will have to look toward free agency to fill their need at defensive end or hope that third-year player Allen Bailey is up to the task.
Priority 2: Cornerback
The biggest mistake of former GM Scott Pioli was letting cornerback Brandon Carr leave in free agency in the same season Peyton Manning signed with AFC West rival Denver
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From 2008 to 2011, the Kansas City Chiefs had the best young cornerback tandem in the NFL with Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. For four seasons, the two best players in the Chiefs 2008 draft class complemented each other so well that the team decided they could only afford to keep one of them.
So while the team retained Flowers with a long-term deal, Carr left for Dallas and created an enormous hole in the Chiefs secondary that couldn't be filled by free-agent bust Stanford Routt or a slew of others plugged in throughout the 2012 season.
This year's Chiefs team can't afford another season of subpar play across from Flowers. And while there are several options available in free agency, perhaps the best option available is Alabama's talented cover man Dee Milliner.
Milliner has great size for a corner (6'0" and 201 lbs) and ran the best time of all of this year's cornerback prospects with a 4.37 at the NFL Combine.
The best defensive player on the best college team in the country is a proven quantity when it comes to making big plays and stepping up and stopping the best receiver on the other team. That will come in handy for a Chiefs team that faces Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning twice a season.
Priority 3: Inside Linebacker
Coach Andy Reid is familiar with Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown's family, as he drafted his running back brother Bryce when he coached the Eagles
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Even before the tragic murder-suicide on December 1, 2012 that resulted in the deaths of linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, the Chiefs had a need for an upgrade at inside linebacker. With the passing of Belcher, that became even more clear in the final month of the season.
Chiefs new head coach Andy Reid has always opted to run a 4-3 defense, but despite a glaring need at the second inside linebacker spot opposite All-Pro Derrick Johnson, Reid has stated that the team will run the same 3-4 alignment they ran last season.
This appears to be a position that the Chiefs could address in free agency with names like Brian Urlacher, Stewart Bradley, Barret Ruud and Rey Maualuga out on the open market.
However, should the Chiefs find a trading partner to move down in round one, the team could target one of the two best inside linebackers in Georgia's Alec Ogletree or Kansas State's Arthur Brown.
Despite all the press around Georgia's Jarvis Jones, Ogletree was consistently the Bulldogs best defensive player. The main questions about Ogletree aren't about his talent but his maturity and how he handles himself off the field.
Perhaps the most intriguing draft option for the Chiefs would be Brown, whose brother Bryce was drafted in the seventh-round by Reid in last season's draft. While he'd be a reach with the top overall pick, his NFL Combine grade of 90.3 ranked above every other linebacker available in the draft. The fact that he played at nearby Kansas State would make him an acceptable and even exciting pick in the eyes of many Chiefs fans.