Kansas City Chiefs: The 12 Most Important Players
This is a very difficult project. The Kansas City Chiefs are loaded with young talent. They also have a mix of tremendous veterans.
For an NFL football team, it's a perfect balance. Taking 12 of those players is very much up for debate, which I look forward to.
Putting this together I'm looking at three things. There is past accomplishments, present value and potential. Keep in mind that I say this with current production as an absolute criteria.
My belief is the Kansas City Chiefs will win their second Super Bowl within the next three years, or sooner. A few of these players will not be involved. Most will be an integral part of that accomplishment.
Listing them in order from 12 to number one is almost impossible. That will be my guideline, but it is even more subjective than the list itself.
Over the past few years, Dustin Colquitt would probably be first on this list. That's not a good place for your punter to be.
That said, he is still a weapon. More importantly than kicking far, he can kick where he wants. He can kick it away from the person who can do the damage on the return team. He can also plant it inside the 20 with proficiency.
Great teams need great kickers. They can be tremendous offensive and defensive weapons and Dustin Colquitt has earned that reputation.
Casey Wiegmann is a perfect example of one of those veteran players that may or may not make it to the Super Bowl with the Chiefs.
In his first stint with Kansas City, he would have been real far up this list. He was a member of one of the greatest offensive lines ever. Now he's older, but a perfect addition to this team.
Not only is he a great center, but he brings experience and leadership. He has one other thing that most of the veterans that came in do not. He is a Chief.
He may have gone to the enemy for a couple years, but he was and always will be a Chief.
We haven't heard a lot from Chambers this year. I assure you, we will. As the passing game ramps up, he will be a huge part of it.
Another veteran that bring experience and leadership, but also has a lot left in the tank. I also think he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Chris Chambers has been bounced around, and I believe that he's ready willing and more than able to be the number one receiver on this team, if you know who doesn't take it.
We'll get to him soon enough.
Branden Albert has come under a lot of heat in Kansas City. Some of it has been justified and some of it has not. In his three years he has played under three coordinators, two head coaches and of course going from college to the NFL.
We can see the changes in Albert. He is in better shape and there is continuity in the offense and his position. I think he's secure knowing the Chiefs didn't draft anyone or trade for anyone that may challenge for his spot.
We know that for Matt Cassel to be a successful passer Branden Albert must be a standout at his job. The second of half of last year he started doing it.
I believe he is finally on his way to becoming a Pro-Bowl left tackle.
Here he is. Other than Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe is player that may have the most to say about the Chiefs season.
Dwayne Bowe fits into almost all three categories of veteran, present and future. This is his fourth year, not a rookie by any means. His impact can and should be now. Because, however he is still young he is very much a part of the future of this team.
He can be a special receiver, or he can stay average. He can have a big say in how successful Matt Cassel will be. He's that kind of receiver, maybe.
Brandon Flowers is the heart of this defense, almost. Kansas City has the opportunity to have one of, if not the best secondaries in football.
As Eric Berry learns his position, and Braden Carr continues to improve along with Kendrick Lewis they will be tough to pass on. Jon McGraw provides great depth as a starter while these rookies learn, and a backup when they start.
Right now, however it all starts with Flowers. Most true NFL "experts' over the last year or two have recognized Flowers as one of the best corners in the NFL. Playing for the Chiefs has not helped his exposure. Some consider him right behind Revis.
Teams won't be throwing to his side much, and soon they won't want to throw to the other side either.
That puts opposing quarterbacks in a real quandary, especially if they can't run the ball.
This write up for Glenn Dorsey could be almost identical to the one for Branden Albert.
Young, very high draft picks with a lot of expectations on them. Both of them have been disappointments to the team and fans, until now.
Dorsey also came to camp in much better shape. It is clear that Romeo Crannel is having a positive affect on him, as well as the whole defense. He looks like a different player.
These young players seem to be on their way to playing up to expectations. Tyson Jackson could be added to this group as well, but due to his injury he will be left off.
Jamal Charles obviously has to be on this list. In fact, so should Thomas Jones but I can't put the whole team on it.
Charles has that unique ability to find a gap, hit it and explode. In fact, there is a better chance that he will do it in every game, then he won't. How many players can you say that about?
Therein lies one of the problems. I know there are a lot of fans that have complained about the carries Jamal Charles gets compared to Thomas Jones. I completely understand based on what I just wrote.
The flip side is the if the Chiefs rush for 200 yards a game I'm sure the coaching staff really doesn't care about "carries".
I don't think the players, including Charles and Jones do either.
That is why I think this team is destined for great things. They are a team in the true sense of the word. It is a team that will consistently win, and they have evolved into that quickly.
Derrick Johnson, Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey as well as so many others on this defense are playing like never before. We knew they had the talent. Romeo Crannel obviously won three Super Bowls with a great defense for a reason.
Derrick Johnson has had an up and down, and often mediocre career in Kansas City.
Another top draft pick that has not lived up to expectations. Derrick Johnson seems to be a man transformed into the linebacker the Chiefs drafter from Texas.
He is only 27 years old and is part of the future of this team. If has finally learned how to play his position, which passion he will be a big part of that future.
Here is my ultimate "rookie" and future player. The reason I chose McCluster over some of the other rookies is because of the versatility he posses.
The Chiefs have not even figured out how to use him yet. Maybe their confused at all the possibilities?
This kid is a weapon. He can return punts and kickoffs. He can be a receiver, especially in the slot. He can come out of the backfield on screens and short passes and occasionally even as a running back.
We saw what he could do out of a "wildcat" type formation against San Fransisco.
They have not scratched the surface of McCluster talents, and I suggest they do so. Maybe this Sunday in Indianapolis?
Fact: No NFL team has achieved consistent success without a star quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs have one in Matt Cassel. I know I'll hear flak about that, but I welcome it. I will not repeat so many of the things I've already written about Cassel. The articles are easy to find.
Please just think about a few things.
In 2008 in his first full year as a starter he threw for over 3,600 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His completion percentage was 64 and his quarterback rating was 90.
He has 33 starts so far in his career. He is 17-16. That's exactly what Peyton Manning was in his first 33 starts. I am by no means suggesting Matt Cassel will morph into Peyton Manning.
The other thing I'm constantly reading is how he was part of the "Patriot system", and he had all their talent. Part of that I'll accept.
Here's the part I do not accept. I think right now, short of Wes Welker and Moss, Cassel is now the quarterback of a better team.
I am also not suggesting he will be Tom Brady either. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the best quarterbacks that have ever walked on a field. It is unfair to use them as a barometer.
The Chiefs have more overall offensive weapons than the Pats did in 2008. Bowe needs to step up and be the Chiefs "Moss" and Cassel needs to step up and use all of his players.
I think he's learning to do that and he'll be a great leader and quarterback for this team.
My Number One: Mike Vrabel
This may surprise some, and many may disagree. Both are fine by me and I welcome the debate.
The Kansas City Chiefs started this transformation at the top. I've written extensively about it. From Clark Hunt down to the coaching staff.
Not to be overlooked however, is what they've done to the locker room. It is a reflection of everything else they have done and nowhere is that more evident than in Mike Vrabel.
When Scot Pioli traded for Matt Cassel there is no doubt in my mind that Vrabel was an intentional, if not required part of the package.
Mike Vrabel is certainly not the most athletic on the field anymore. He doesn't need to be. He knows where everyone belongs and he can read offenses because he's seen almost every one imaginable in his years in the NFL.
He is respected by both the offense and defense and will get in the face of anyone on either side. He leads by example. He's tough, he's won and he reminds me of the ultimate football player.
The rookies follow him around and hang on his every word, as they should. He his a man they can learn a tremendous amount from. He won't be playing much longer, but I would love to see the Chiefs find a place for him on their staff.
Give me 22 Mike Vrabels and you'd never lose a game.