What Are the Chiefs' Most Pressing Needs?

Patrick CliftonCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 02:  Damion McIntosh #77 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their NFL game on November 2, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Buccaneers won 30 to 27 in overtime. (Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has been busy this off-season.  Through free agency, he's upgraded with new starters at quarterback, right guard, inside and outside linebacker, and possibly center. 

In the draft, they picked up two defensive ends in Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee, a kick returner in Quentin Lawrence, and right tackle Colin Brown, all of whom will likely be contributing heavily as rookies.

However, there is still work to be done.  Playing coach and drafting an early possible depth chart, it looks like Kansas City still needs to upgrade at inside linebacker, right tackle, and possibly guard before the season begins.

Kansas City's biggest need entering the off season was finding a way to fix their historically feeble pass rush, which produced an all-time low 10 sacks in 2008. 

If a team can't put pressure on the quarterback with their front four, they have to rely on blitzes, leaving their defensive secondary vulnerable.

Well, Kansas City couldn't put adequate pressure on the quarterback whether they were sending three, four, seven, or even KC Wolf last season.

After owner Clark Hunt named Pioli general manager and Todd Haley head coach this off-season, it became apparent the Chiefs were going to switch to the 3-4 defense, creating even more needs for a team that already had plenty to begin with, as does any team coming off a 2-14 season.

Instead of needing to add just a pass-rushing defensive end and a couple linebackers to their 4-3 defense, they created the need for at least two true 3-4 ends (of which they had none) and three linebackers. 

Keeping that in mind, Pioli has done a more than adequate job finding two starting linebackers in free agency and probably two starting ends in the draft in Jackson and Magee. 

However, the second most glaring hole KC had heading into the off season was right tackle.  Veteran Damion McIntosh struggled mightily last season, especially in pass protection. 

The Chiefs offensive line was so bad, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey instituted the spread offense to buy quarterback Tyler Thigpen time in the pocket.

As the roster stands right now, McIntosh, Brown, Herb Taylor, and last year's sixth-round selection, Barry Richardson, will be battling it out for the starting spot.  That group isn't exactly filled with Pro Bowlers. 

McIntosh was simply incapable last season.  Though he's had some solid years as a left tackle in the past,  he proved unable to make the transition to the right side, and is probably nearing the end of his career. 

Taylor is a capable pass protector, but lacks the size to pound out holes for ball carriers.

Richardson certainly possesses the size you want in a right tackle, but is still working on the necessary technique and quickness needed to compete with NFL-caliber pass rushers. 

That leaves Brown.  At 6'7", 341 pounds, he also has the size, and it's his quick feet that got him drafted higher than pretty much every draft publication had him projected.

He'll have to transition from the spread offense he played in at Mizzou, meaning he'll need to get used to more narrow splits and different blocking schemes, but athletically, Brown may be KC's best option.

Of course, if Pioli and company don't see their starting right tackle on the current roster, they might look to add a veteran after the annual wave of June 1 cuts.

The next biggest need for the Chiefs is one that can be satisfied in-house.  If Pioli and Haley can make amends with guard Brian Waters, who has asked to be traded or released and hasn't shown up to any OTAs or off season workouts, they'll do themselves a big favor. 

With Waters, Kansas City has a pretty solid offensive line from left tackle through right guard.  Without him, Goff probably moves to the left side and right guard becomes an issue.  It's possible that Ghiaciuc would then take over at center and Rudy Niswanger would slide over to right guard. 

The Waters-less scenario is still probably an improvement over last year's line, but not as big as it could be if Waters remains in the picture. 

Another position of need is inside linebacker.  Derrick Johnson looks like he's going to be playing on the outside in the 3-4, opposite Vrabel.  Thomas will occupy one inside linebacker position, but the other is still up for grabs.

Of the remaining linebackers on the roster, only Monty Beisel, Demorrio Williams, and Corey Mays have registered an NFL start. 

Williams is without a doubt the most decorated of the bunch, starting nine games at OLB in the 4-3 for KC last season.  However, he is a bit undersized compared to the ideal 3-4 ILB.

There is also the possibility that Johnson moves to the inside and Williams starts on the outside.

While many onlookers also consider wide receiver a big area of need for Kansas City, I'd argue otherwise.  Dwayne Bowe is on the cusp of becoming a premier receiver.

He hauled in 86 catches and racked up over 1,000 receiving yards last season, all while still playing second fiddle to future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez.

Though Bowe's had a rather impressive career to date, he and the rest of the Chiefs' receiving corps is being unfairly compared to Arizona's, due in large part to their shared link, Todd Haley. 

Well, compare anyone's receiving corps to Arizona's, and they're going to come up short. 

There is a litany of prolific offenses who've made it work without a Cardinal-esque pair shredding the opposing secondary. 

Chiefs fans might remember routinely having one of the best offenses in the league under Dick Vermeil, and they might also remember Vermeil pulling it off with tandems consisting of Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker, Marc Boerigter, or Johnny Morton. 

Tom Brady built his legacy throwing to the likes of David Patten and Troy Brown, neither of whom are serious candidates for enshrinement in Canton.

Could Kansas City use another big-play threat at wideout?  Sure, but their needs at right tackle and linebacker are much more pressing.