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What Does Eric Winston's Release Mean for the Chiefs' Draft Strategy?

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 07:  Andy Reid walks into a press conference with Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt introducing him as the Kansas City Chiefs new head coach on January 7, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Chris TrapassoAnalyst IMarch 7, 2013

Stay unpredictable, Chiefs.

After they traded for Alex Smith, quarterback Geno Smith was considered to essentially be out of the running to go No. 1 overall (barring a trade back). Following the tagging of left tackle Branden Albert, selecting an offensive tackle with the first pick seemed illogical. 

Then, out of nowhere, the Chiefs released right tackle Eric Winston—a fine player and 2012 free-agent acquisition—which skewed potential draft plans even more.

Yeah, I'm as a confused as you are. 

Let's attempt to cover how all of Kansas City's moves—most recently Winston's release—affect its draft strategy. 

 

Strategy No. 1: Still draft the best offensive tackle

The Chiefs drafting the best offensive tackle in the class—either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher—is still a popular sentiment. 

Chiefs release of Eric Winston portends their using No. 1 draft pick on OT Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher.

— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) March 7, 2013

But a few questions arise in his scenario; Would Joeckel or Fisher instantly be slotted to play right tackle? Is it ever smart to draft a right tackle with the No. 1 overall pick? Who is better suited to make the switch to the right tackle—Joeckel or Fisher? Or would a left tackle selection mean Albert would be moved to the right side? 

There's no telling if the Chiefs intend to place either Joeckel or Fisher at the right tackle spot, and frankly, no one knows which prospect they like more. 

However, there's this: 

If #Chiefs are set on moving Albert to RT (or playing D.Stephenson), Joeckel makes sense. If unsure about LT vs RT, Fisher has exp, at both.

— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) March 7, 2013

Fisher's experience at right tackle could be a determining factor. 

Also, no law states "thou shall not select a right tackle No. 1 overall," but it'd certainly be unprecedented if the Chiefs did.

With either tackle prospect, the Chiefs would provide themselves amazing insurance. If they weren't able to strike a long-term deal with Albert, Joeckel or Fisher could be kicked back to the left side in 2014 and beyond. 

The Chiefs could start Joeckel or Fisher on the left side and move Albert to right tackle, but that would be met with some resistance. 

This from ProFootballTalk.com when Winston's release was made public: 

Asked by a Twitter follower if he would be willing to move to the right side, Albert said, “Nope.” Asked later if Albert is saying that he’s strictly a left tackle, Albert said, “You damn right.”

After that, Albert deleted his Twitter account. 

Yikes. 

 

Strategy No. 2: Find a right tackle in free agency, draft the best defensive lineman

Bleacher Report NFL Lead Writer Tyler Schalter sent out an intelligent tweet with Twitter abuzz following the Winston release on Wednesday evening: 

Draft buzz is steamrolling FA buzz this year. Everyone’s all THE PICK NOW MUST BE JOECKEL like there aren’t a ton of good free agent RTs

— Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) March 7, 2013

Spot on, right?

Andre Smith is a free agent. As are Sebastian Vollmer, Gosder Cherilus and Phil Loadholt.

Sure, those right tackles could re-sign with their current teams, but first, they'll hit the free-agent market.

Then again, Schalter retweeted this, another good point:

@tyschalter they're not gonna cut Winston and go spend a ton of money on a RT in free agency.

— Sammy Mayers (@SamJags) March 7, 2013

Touche. 

 

Strategy No. 3: Play Donald Stephenson at right tackle, draft the best defensive player

Remember Donald Stephenson, the Chiefs' third-round pick in 2012? 

He spent most of last season as Albert's backup, but he did line up as the team's right tackle in one game. 

Andy Reid and Co. may love the idea of Stephenson as their franchise right tackle, and no one's talking about it. 

Maybe they don't. 

But if they do, the release of Winston would be more logical, and the Chiefs could then look for a defensive stud with the No. 1 overall pick. 

Possibilities? 

Cornerback Dee Milliner to fill the void left by Brandon Carr's departure in 2012. Sheldon Richardson could play defensive end in the 3-4, as could Star Lotulelei. 

Sharrif Floyd is an interesting defensive line prospect, but Kansas City would be giving him the Glenn Dorsey treatment fitting him into a 3-4 defense when he's a penetrating 4-3 defensive tackle.

Heck, Ezekiel Ansah could go No. 1.

 

Strategy No. 4 - Trade out of the first pick

To some, this is the best case scenario for the Chiefs. Yet, it's far-fetched. Kansas City would have to be willing to trade the No. 1 pick at less than face value. Much less. Also, which team would trade up? Lastly, a trade would likely mean the Chiefs wouldn't get their choice of the best offensive tackle. 

You're the Chiefs general manager, what would you do?

 

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