Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel inherits a promising young group of defensive players that includes four former first round picks in his front seven.
Of course Crennel, like former coordinator Clancy Pendergast, prefers using a 3-4 defensive front over the more common 4-3 alignment. That said, the one position on the defensive side of the ball in dire need of an upgrade is the nose tackle position.
A nose tackle that demands constant double teams and stuffs the inside running game is critical in making the 3-4 defense work. Without it, well... the defense resembles the one the Chiefs put on the field in 2009.
Last season, with veteran Ron Edwards at nose tackle, the Chiefs defense ranked 31st in the league against the run (156.5 ypg) and 30th in total yards allowed (388.2 ypg).
As any coach will tell you it all starts in the trenches, and when running the 3-4, it all starts up the middle. If the Chiefs expect to improve one of the league's worst defenses from 2009, simply hiring Crennel to lead it won't do the trick.
Crennel will need GM Scott Pioli's help in acquiring a nose tackle who can plug the middle better than Edwards, and there are a few players in this year's draft that could fill that need.
The most talented player in the 2010 draft, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh would be a dream come true for Crennel and every Chiefs fan in Kansas City.
If Scott Pioli can somehow swing a deal to move up from the fifth pick overall to draft Suh, Crennel would have the most disruptive and productive defensive player in college football in 2009.
Some have speculated that Suh would not be successful as a nose tackle in the NFL because he played in a 4-3 with the Huskers. However, in Carl Pelini's zone scheme at Nebraska, the Huskers often only rushed three linemen, playing Suh at NT and even end.
Most importantly for the Chiefs, every running back in the Big 12 could share a story about getting stuffed running up the middle by big No. 93.
Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy is, after Nebraska's Suh, the best three-technique defensive tackle in the 2010 draft. Unlike Suh, who was often shifted over top of the center or even drop into pass coverage, McCoy is more of an up-the-field type of tackle.
McCoy's skills are undoubtedly best suited to a team that runs a 4-3 defense. However, because of his abundant talent and the likelihood that he will be available when the Chiefs pick at number five, the Chiefs will most certainly explore whether or not they think McCoy can play the nose in the NFL.
If Crennel thinks McCoy can clog the middle for the Chiefs, the former Sooner could very well be lining up on Sundays in the fall in Kansas City.
After taking Tyson Jackson with third overall pick a year ago, Chiefs fans already know that Pioli isn't afraid to use his first pick on a guy that he thinks will fit his system.
While Suh will most certainly be gone, and McCoy could possibly be off the board as well, Pioli could very well use his first selection on Tennessee's Dan Williams.
While most outside observers focused on the production of safety Eric Berry in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense at Tennessee, Williams was just as productive in the middle of the defensive line as Berry was in the secondary.
The team's leader in tackles for loss (9) and quarterback hurries (9) in 2009, his skills and size (6'3" and 320 pounds) make him an ideal candidate for the Chiefs vacancy at nose tackle.
Penn State's Jared Odrick was the best the Big Ten had to offer, so far as defensive linemen are concerned in 2009.
The Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year, Odrick spend much of the season occupying double-teams and freeing up teammates to make tackles in the running game, while also leading the Nittany Lions in sacks with six.
A strong player who often lined up over the center, Odrick is a solid candidate to play nose tackle in an NFL 3-4 defense. His ability to rush the passer on obvious passing downs makes him an intriguing option for Pioli on draft day, considering how poor the Chiefs pass-rush was last season.
If he is available in the second round, Pioli will most certainly need to contemplate selecting Odrick to help better the team's rush and pass defense.
Syracuse Orange nose tackle Arthur Jones could very well find himself selected high in the first round if not for a knee injury that cost him a chunk of his senior season.
Despite the injury, which cost Jones the final three games of the 2009 season, he was selected to the All Big East first team for a second consecutive season. While he only had 19 tackles in 2009, seven were tackles for loss, and he recovered two fumbles and registered one and a half sacks.
Known as a player with a good motor who doesn't take plays off and makes big plays, Jones would appear to be a great fit for what the Chiefs need.
Where Jones goes in April's draft will probably be dictated by how well he plays in the Senior Bowl on January 30th, along with his performance at the NFL combine.
Perhaps college football's best example of a true nose tackle, Alabama's Terrence "Mount" Cody was most definitely more than a handful for the opposition in 2009.
Cody, who stands 6'5" and weighs in the neighborhood of 400 pounds, has presented nightmarish matchups for opposing offenses in his two seasons at Alabama.
While it is virtually impossible to block Cody with just one man, he is not an every down player.
Crimson Tide coaches often used Cody specifically in short yardage situations, and removed him on passing downs, as he is generally a liability in pass-rush situations.
If the Chiefs choose to find a player that can rotate in and out, sharing time with Ron Edwards in 2010, then Cody could be their guy.
However, if Pioli and Crennel want a guy that can be an every down player, then the only way Mount Cody will find himself in Kansas City next fall is as a member of the visiting team.