Player photo courtesy of TBO.com. Image created by Brett Gering.
Head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey have addressed a number of roster concerns via free agency. But Dorsey plans to build the Chiefs' nucleus through the draft, and a handful of weak links remain scattered throughout Kansas City's depth chart.
Within the past week, the Chiefs presumably added three starters in quarterback Alex Smith, cornerback Sean Smith and defensive tackle Mike DeVito (who will move to defensive end). Reid also added bulk to his roster's depth by signing tight end Anthony Fasano, cornerback Dunta Robinson, wide receiver Donnie Avery and quarterback Chase Daniel.
However, if the Chiefs don't land another ticker-worthy free agent before April 25, the team will enter the 2013 draft desperately seeking starters at two positions. And Kansas City will fill those needs with its first two selections.
Kansas City franchised left tackle Branden Albert and released right tackle Eric Winston. Following the Philadelphia Eagles' dismal 2012 season, Andy Reid isn't going to open the door for instability up front by penciling Donald Stephenson in as the starting right tackle.
Left tackle Luke Joeckel is currently pegged as the consensus No. 1 overall pick for good reason. Joeckel's extremely well-balanced, excelling in both pass protection and run blocking. He rapidly processes information, diagnosing various forms of pressure with ease.
Joeckel also successfully fended off SEC competition on a weekly basis—a feat that shouldn't be understated.
However, the Chiefs could also fill the void with Central Michigan's Eric Fisher: a more athletically inclined prospect who possesses experience at right tackle. But Fisher has never battled top-tier competition throughout the span of an entire season. Joeckel, on the other hand, regularly lined up opposite of headline-worthy pass-rushers—such as Denver Broncos sack artist Von Miller—at practice.
Cory Greenwood currently masquerades as the starting strong-side linebacker on the Chiefs roster. Thus far, he has netted 34 tackles in 48 games (via NFL.com), hence "masquerades."
If Andy Reid doesn't recruit a (potential) starter, such as Brad Jones or Larry Grant, he will address the vulnerability through the draft.
During his tenure with the New York Jets, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton became renowned for disguising his defense's post-snap intentions. He plays pre-snap chess with the quarterbacks, showing them multiple looks in hopes of sparking successful blitzes. And Kiko Alonso fits that kind of mold to a tee.
Alonso's last season doubled as his first as a starter. But he routinely jumped off the screen and provided efforts worthy of replays.
The Oregon standout plays with a fearless tenacity shared by only a select group of defenders. He missiles toward ball carriers, cutting through lines like a laser with no hesitation. Alonso also showcases well-rounded coverage skills and natural instincts when dropping back into zone.
Andy Reid loves dynamic offensive talent and, at some point, is bound to enlist more through the draft.
Running back Jamaal Charles boasts game-breaking speed and better-than-average hands when releasing from the backfield—two traits shared by Florida's Mike Gillislee.
Although Gillislee won't be confused with No. 25 between the tackles, he embodies and flashes a similar skill set in the open field. Like Charles, Florida's backfield blur eludes would-be tacklers with ease and wills himself for extra yardage.
Gillislee embraces contact in blitz protection, and he also presents a matchup nightmare from a passing perspective.
If Charles is sidelined, reserves Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray—who often struggles to combat injuries—don't pose a legitimate home-run threat to opposing coordinators. Gillislee will, which helps in keeping defenses honest in the passing game.
Kansas City's largest pool of talent resides at linebacker, as the team sent three Pro Bowlers to Hawaii last season. But the depth of that pool is dangerously shallow.
Stansly Maponga's game tape sprouts an array of opinions.
His 6'2", 256-pound frame renders Maponga as a better linebacking prospect than defensive end. However, despite his size, he managed to post 30 bench-press reps (via NFL.com) at the NFL combine—tied for fifth amongst defensive linemen.
Like Tamba Hali, Maponga's game is fairly one-dimensional. But that one dimension—pass rushing—is coveted throughout the league, especially in a trigger-happy division such as the AFC West.
Quarterback pressure will play a vital role in the Chiefs' divisional success next season, and an injury to Hali or Justin Houston would drastically hamper Kansas City's effectiveness. Maponga, while raw, would at least limit the drop-off in edge-rushing talent and could eventually develop into a worthwhile project.
TCU's edge rusher produced 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles in his past two seasons (via Sports-Reference.com).
At 6'3" and 300 pounds, defensive tackle Josh Boyd lines up with a similar build to recent Chiefs addition Mike DeVito (6'3, 305 lbs.).
Boyd won't drop jaws with his pass-rushing abilities, but he projects relatively well into Kansas City's two-gap 3-4 scheme. He possesses the size to absorb blockers and built his collegiate reputation on stuffing the run.
At Mississippi State, Boyd also periodically dropped back into zone coverage, which will balloon his value within a blitz-minded defense such as Bob Sutton's.
With Dexter McCluster, Donnie Avery, Devon Wylie and Mardy Gilyard under contract, the Chiefs face no shortage of shifty, agile receivers who shine in the open field.
But Kansas City does lack size on the outside. Only two receivers measure above six feet in height: starters Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin. If one of the two misses time, Alex Smith will be left with only one sizable sideline target.
Marquess Wilson's draft stock will likely plummet due to his controversial departure from Washington State.
But on the field, Wilson showcases the kind of physical tools that scouts drool over. He's a tall playmaker who displays respectable straight-line speed (4.51 40 time), as well as a 34.5-inch vertical (via NFL.com).
Wilson's general fundamentals need to be cleaned up, as does his technique versus press-man coverage. The wideout also shows inconsistencies when bringing the ball in: He's just as likely to snag an awe-inspiring reception as he is to drop a routine pass between his jersey numbers.
But as a seventh-round selection, the reward dwarfs the risk, and Wilson is gifted with enough potential to become a weekly contributor on Sunday afternoons.
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