Predicting Kansas City's Starting Lineup Post Week 1 of Free Agency
After one week of free agency in the books, the Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the most active teams in the NFL. The Chiefs have re-signed and tagged a couple of their own players and have added a few more to help dig themselves out of last place in 2013.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been very active this offseason and have given us a good idea of what their starting roster will look like in Week 1 of the regular season.
In this slideshow, I will predict what Kansas City's starting lineup will look like in September.
Do you agree or disagree with any of these? As always, comment below with your thoughts.
Starting quarterback: Alex Smith
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey traded away a second-round pick and a pick in next year's draft to the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith. The Chiefs owned the 34th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, which is a spot where teams can still land some players who were just short of being taken in the first round.
Look at it this way; the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Smith with their high second-round pick. Unless he suffers an injury, it's almost clear that he becomes the new starting quarterback when the season kicks off.
Starting running back: Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles had an incredible 2013 season after bouncing back from a torn ACL injury early in 2012. Charles led the AFC in rushing and fourth overall in the league.
Charles had two 200-yard games this past season and is labeled as one of the fastest players today. But he also had to deal with an incompetent offensive coordinator offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll as Charles had 10 or fewer yards off 10 or fewer carries in three different games this season.
Doug Pederson, who worked under Chiefs coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia, will take the offensive coordinator job for the first time in his coaching career and should have a plan with Reid to keep Charles active.
Reid likes to use his running backs as pass-catchers, which still makes Charles a big threat, even if he is used in the passing game.
Starting fullback: Patrick DiMarco
The Chiefs ran a different offense for most of last year compared to other NFL teams. The Chiefs did not carry a traditional fullback on their 53-man roster for most of the season. Patrick DiMarco, who is best suited for the fullback spot, joined the 53-man roster and played late in the season.
There isn't anything that can be said at DiMarco, at this point. He remains as an unknown after playing in only the final five games and never touching the football in 2012.
His main duty as a principle blocking back was to simply give Charles and then-Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis room by manufacturing gaps and holes for the tailbacks.
If DiMarco can impress Reid in training camp and have a good preseason, he can be Kansas City's starting fullback on opening day.
Starting wide receivers: Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin
The Chiefs re-signed Dwayne Bowe earlier this month and made him one of the top paid receivers in the league today. Bowe had a frustrating 2013 season, with all three of his touchdowns coming late in the fourth quarter when games have been decided.
Bowe, who missed the last the last three games due to injury, has a chance to rebound strong and put together a 2010 season under Reid. His drop habits have been a concern, but has been able to erase those at times with his ability to make an impact in games.
However, one player who has been limited with his contributions since joining the Chiefs is Jon Baldwin. Baldwin, who was taken in the 2011 NFL Draft by the previous regime, got off to a bad start with an off-field issue and has been quiet on the gridiron.
If Baldwin continues to struggle, don't be surprised if Donnie Avery takes his starting spot at some point during the season.
Starting tight end: Tony Moeaki
Like a couple of his other teammates, Tony Moeaki was working to return to his potential after missing the entire 2012 regular season due to suffering a torn ACL injury in the preseason finale.
Moeaki was part of an offense that had limited success and was unable to reach his potential. But with what he showed during his rookie season in 2010, Dorsey and Reid have to like what Moeaki is capable of and will give him a shot to try again with a better offense to work with this season.
Starting left tackle: Branden Albert
Starting right tackle: Luke Joeckel
Branden Albert reportedly agreed to sign his franchise tender, which is worth $9.8 million. That type of money is only suitable for left tackles, and not right tackles. Although there are rumors of the Chiefs listening to offers for Albert, trading him away means Kansas City loses both Eric Winston and Albert and it would create another serious need this offseason.
Kansas City can stick with Albert and draft Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel and have him play on the right side.
This would give Charles two great tackles to run behind whenever he wants to attack the outside. Smith will also have good protection in the pocket with Albert and Joeckel around him this season.
Starting left guard: Jeff Allen
Starting right guard: Jon Asamoah
When the Chiefs released Brian Waters before the 2011 season, Ryan Lilja went back to his original left guard position at the time, which allowed Jon Asamoah to finally start at right guard. In the last two years, he's missed only one game and has allowed just five sacks in his career as a starter.
Jeff Allen stepped up after center Rodney Hudson suffered a season-ending injury this past year, which forced the Chiefs to move Lilja to center. That created an opportunity for Allen, who did a good job of run-blocking and surrendered just three sacks as a rookie.
Now that Asamoah and Allen have experience, Smith will be confident with this group and Charles won't have a lot of issues trying to find a hole behind his guards.
Starting center: Rodney Hudson
Among all the starting spots on offense, the center position is one that is up in the air. There are no expectations from Hudson's return.
With Casey Wiegmann no longer being on the team, Hudson was handed the starting center job in his second year after being a backup his rookie year. But after three games, Hudson was done for the year.
Reid has a difficult decision to make with Hudson. If he shows that he is healthy in OTAs and training camp, he'll most likely get another shot to show he can start in the NFL.
Starting nose tackle: Dontari Poe
Starting left defensive end: Tyson Jackson
Starting right defensive end: Allen Bailey
Tyson Jackson, drafted third in the 2009 draft, and Dontari Poe, taken 11th in the 2012 draft, were part of a group last season with Glenn Dorsey where the defensive line was formed of all first-round picks. With Dorsey leaving and Poe and Jackson, the right end spot is open.
Allen Bailey has played in 26 games since joining the Chiefs in 2011. As a backup, he's came in and shown flashes at times. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will take a close look at him and perhaps he and Reid will consider Bailey as a possible starter.
Despite being in the 3-4 defense, the Chiefs still need much more production from their defensive ends.
Outside linebackers: Tamba Hali and Justin Houston
Inside linebackers: Derrick Johnson and Karlos Dansby
The Chiefs have one of the best group of linebackers in the NFL as Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston were all sent to the Pro Bowl this past season.
Hali and Houston have formed a dangerous duo in pressuring quarterbacks while Johnson has turned into one of the best defensive players in the league the past couple of seasons.
With the loss of Jovan Belcher and the release of Brandon Siler, the Chiefs have one position that is wide open. Why not give Karlos Dansby a shot?
Dansby, a veteran recently released by the Miami Dolphins, would be a great fit for Kansas City's defense. Dansby has some experience playing inside in the 3-4 with Arizona and would be great to have alongside Johnson.
The Chiefs become one of the most dangerous defenses in the league for offenses to go up against with Dansby.
Going into 2013, linebackers coach Gary Gibbs has a lot of great linebackers to work with and might have the best group in 2013.
Starting cornerbacks: Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith
Starting safeties: Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis
Brandon Flowers has climbed into one of the better cornerbacks in the AFC while Eric Berry is recognized by most as a rising star, despite struggling at times during his bounce-back season.
The biggest thing to notice for the Chiefs is newly acquired cornerback Sean Smith. Smith had a breakout year last season after forcing three fumbles and coming away with two interceptions.
If Hali and Houston continue to put pressure on quarterbacks and force them to throw ill-advised passes, that gives the Chiefs defensive backs a great opportunity to snag some takeaways and avoid allowing offenses to run up the scoreboard in 2013.
The biggest note to make is that Emmitt Thomas was one of two assistants kept from the previous regime. As one of the top defensive back coaches in the league, the Chiefs defense can only get better. The cornerbacks and safeties will also be guided by Al Harris, who will serve as the Chiefs' assistant secondary coach.
Starting kicker: Ryan Succop
Starting punter: Dustin Colquitt
Starting long snapper: Thomas Gafford
Starting return specialist: Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster
Ryan Succop has shown that he has the ability to be a good kicker in the NFL. But 2012 was not a reflection of that. From 20 to 49 yards Succop missed six field goals off of 32 attempts. The Chiefs will need more consistency from him from short-range field goals.
Dustin Colquitt has been a good punter and has not had any issues as a field-goal holder. The Chiefs did a good job retaining him.
Thomas Gafford, who has been the Chiefs' long snapper since 2008, has been able to succeed and was recently re-signed.
The big question mark circles the return spots. Javier Arenas is not the same returner he was at Alabama and Dexter McCluster has had only one good game as a returner. The Chiefs don't have any draft picks near the end of the first round; otherwise, they could steal West Virginia utility player Tavon Austin, who is a lethal weapon on offense and special teams.
For now, the Chiefs will work with Arenas and McCluster under new special teams coordinator Dave Toub.