The Kansas City Chiefs had one of the biggest turnarounds from 2009 to 2010 by going from four wins to 10 wins. The Chiefs still have a little ways to go before they become serious threats to win a championship, but the foundation is there. A big reason for the quick turnaround can be attributed to the early contributions from a very impressive 2010 draft class.
Matt Cassel finally showed that he is in fact a franchise quarterback with an excellent season in 2010. It will be interesting to see how he responds to his third offensive coordinator in three seasons in Kansas City.
Jamaal Charles showed that he can be one of the best backs in the league after turning in another impressive season. Having Thomas Jones there to split carries with him is good because it gives Charles an occasional break from running the football.
The wide receiver position is a bit of a concern presently in Kansas City. Yes Dwayne Bowe is a solid No. 1 receiver and he gives Cassel a reliable target in the passing game. However, there is little else besides him and Dexter McCluster, who is limited by his small size at times.
The offensive line is solid, but we could see some improvements in 2010. Branden Albert is probably best suited for the right tackle position, so the Chiefs could look to find a true left tackle in the upcoming draft. Brian Waters and Casey Wiegmann are both on the downsides of their careers, so the Chiefs will need to make sure they have some suitable long term replacements for when those guys decide to call it a career.
The defensive end position has a lot of talent, and they actually played well in the season. Shaun Smith was a nice surprise and Glenn Dorsey continued to improve. Even Tyson Jackson showed some ability later in the season, but his performance still doesn’t come close to justifying his draft position.
The nose tackle position is concerning, as Ron Edwards is nothing special.
Tamba Hali showed that he is a stud pass rusher at outside linebacker in 2010. Mike Vrabel wasn’t very impressive in 2010, and I expect him to be replaced for next season with someone who can rush the passer better.
Derrick Johnson showed big improvement in 2010, and he actually looks like he could stick with the Chiefs now after a very solid season. Jovan Belcher is serviceable at the other inside spot, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs looked for an upgrade.
The cornerback position is pretty solid with the top three guys. Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr are solid starters, and Javier Arenas was successful in the nickel back role.
Eric Berry showed he deserved to be a top five pick, but he could use some improvement in pass coverage. Kendrick Lewis holds down the other safety spot after a surprisingly solid rookie season for a fifth round rookie.
1. (5) S Eric Berry, Tennessee: Berry made a big impact and became a leader on the defense while starting all 16 games of his rookie season. 16 GP/ 16 GS
2. (36) WR Dexter McCluster, Mississippi: He can be an excellent weapon in the slot, and he also proved his worth in the return game. 11 GP/ 7 GS
2. (50) CB Javier Arenas, Alabama: Arenas also became a big-time weapon in the return game, while also making an impact in the nickel back role. 16 GP/ 2 GS
3. (68) OG Jon Asamoah, Illinois: He performed well in a reserve role, but he looks like a future starter at offensive guard. 15 GP/ 1 GS
3. (93) TE Tony Moeaki, Iowa: He was one of the best tight ends from last year’s draft class by providing the Chiefs a reliable option at the tight end position. 15 GP/ 15 GS
5. (136) S Kendrick Lewis, Mississippi: He played much better than expected from a fifth rounder, and he should be a long time starter in Kansas City. 12 GP/ 10 GS
5. (142) OLB Cameron Sheffield, Troy: He suffered a pretty serious injury during training camp, and he missed the entire season. 0 GP/ 0 GS
Summary: This draft class was very impressive, as every player besides Sheffield made a notable impact on the team. I think that each of these players will make an even bigger impact in 2011. Berry and Moeaki look like they could be future pro bowlers, while the other will play a big role in Kansas City for the near future.
Branden Albert has improved in the past season or two at the left tackle position, but I still think that he is best suited for the right side. If he does move over to right tackle, the Chiefs would need to find a replacement for him at left tackle. There are some offensive tackles that will be available for their first-round pick that could fill that role, so look for them to consider a tackle in Round 1 or 2.
Moving Albert to the right side would greatly improve that position, as Barry Richardson and Ryan O’Callahan shouldn’t be NFL starters. It remains to be seen whether or not the Chiefs want to move Albert to the right side, but I think that it would be their best bet.
Round 1: Nate Solder, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod
Round 2: Marcus Cannon, Ben Ijalana, James Brewer
Round 3: Marcus Gilbert, Orlando Franklin, James Carpenter, Chris Hairston
Round 4: Lee Ziemba, DeMarcus Love, Jason Pinkston, Joe Barksdale
If the Chiefs decide that they want to move Albert to right tackle, then they should strongly consider drafting a tackle in Round 1. Yet if they want to keep Albert on the left side, then they could wait until Round 3 or 4 to find a suitable replacement for Barry Richardson at right tackle.
Dwayne Bowe is a No. 1 type receiver, but the Chiefs need to give Matt Cassel more weapons to work with at this position. Dexter McCluster is an explosive weapon, but due to his size, he would be most effective in the slot. That means that the Chiefs need to find themselves another quality starting wide receiver, as the group they had last season was just not getting the job done.
Not only do the Chiefs have to find another starting wide receiver, but they also need to improve the depth at this position. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs take multiple receivers in this draft, as the really need to improve the quality of this position.
Round 1: Jon Baldwin
Round 2: Torrey Smith, Greg Little, Jerrel Jernigan, Leonard Hankerson
Round 3: Randall Cobb, Greg Salas, Niles Paul, Vincent Brown
Round 4: Austin Pettis, Edmund Gates, Cecil Shorts, Jeremy Kerley
I think that somebody like Little or Hankerson would be very good fits for the Chiefs as No. 2 options in the passing game. Kansas City could also take another receiver in the mid to late rounds to try and improve the depth that is lacking from the current group of receivers.
Ron Edwards has just not been getting the job done on the middle of the defensive line and it’s an area that the Chiefs really need to find an upgrade. They need to find a nose tackle who can consistently occupy blockers to allow the players around him to make good plays. There aren’t a whole lot of quality 3-4 nose tackles available in this draft, so if the Chiefs want to find a good one, they will have to take one early on.
I think that if the Chiefs got a starting quality nose tackle, it could help to improve the games of both Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. They would be able to make more plays if the nose tackle can successfully occupy multiple blockers.
Round 1: Phil Taylor
Round 3: Kenrick Ellis
Round 4: Sione Fua
Round 5: Jerrell Powe
I think that the Chiefs will very strongly consider Taylor in the first round, as he is clearly the top nose tackle available for this draft. He would make the biggest impact of these four prospects, especially considering that he may be the only one who can come in and start right away.
Derrick Johnson finally broke out in his sixth season in the NFL, recording 121 tackles last season. He looks like he has locked down one of the inside linebacker spots for the near future. Jovan Belcher was adequate on the other side, but I’m not entirely sure if he’s an every down linebacker. The Chiefs could feel differently than me, in which case the inside linebacker position wouldn’t be much of a need at all for them.
The depth at this position is actually pretty solid, as DeMorrio Williams and Corey Mays are serviceable backups. I really doubt that the Chiefs use a high draft pick on this position, but it is something that they may consider later on in the draft.
Round 3: Kelvin Sheppard, Quan Sturdivant
Round 4: Casey Matthews, Akeem Dent
Round 5: Nick Bellore, Chris White
Round 6: Mike Mohammed, Alex Wujciak
The Chiefs may decide to bring somebody like a Kelvin Sheppard or Quan Sturdivant in to compete with Jovan Belcher for the starting position. I’m a big fan of Sheppard and I think that he could fit well as an inside linebacker in the Chief’s defense.
Tamba Hali proved himself to be one of the top pass rushers in the NFL at the outside linebacker position. The problem here lies with the other outside linebacker spot, where the Chiefs have little to no production rushing the passer. Mike Vrabel will not be back in 2011, and the Chiefs really don’t have another pass rush threat currently on the roster.
This could be another position that the Chiefs will address early on in the draft, unless they think that Cameron Sheffield will be the answer. I wouldn’t count on him, due to the fact that he’s coming off of a season long injury, so look for the Chiefs to take a pass rusher in this draft.
Round 1: Justin Houston, Akeem Ayers
Round 2: Brooks Reed, Dontay Moch, Mason Foster
Round 3: Jeremy Beal, Sam Acho
Round 4: K.J. Wright, Lawrence Wilson
Round 5: Rick Elmore, Cliff Matthews
Justin Houston seems to be a popular pick for the Chiefs in round 1, and he would give them a nice compliment to Tamba Hali. Yet they could take someone like Beal or Acho in round 3 and still have a capable pass rusher at the other outside linebacker position.
Running Back: If Thomas Jones is back next season, this isn’t an immediate need, but they will need to find a long-term replacement for him, as he has a lot of miles on his legs.
Center: The Chiefs need to find a long-term replacement for Casey Wiegmann, as he is now 37 years old and his age started to show in 2010.
Cornerback: The top three cornerbacks are solid, but the Chiefs could use some better players for the fourth and fifth cornerback spot.
The Chiefs were a pleasant surprise last season, and they should again challenge San Diego for the division crown in 2011. I still don’t think that they are serious championship contenders yet, as they have a few glaring holes that they need to address this offseason.
It also remains to be seen just how far Matt Cassel can take this team. I think that he is a capable NFL starter, but I’m not so sure if he has the ability to make a deep postseason run.
The main thing that the Chiefs need to address in the draft is that they must find some more weapons at the receiver position. Teams will start ignoring the passing game if Kansas City doesn’t get some more playmakers in there.
Some other positions that I fully expect the Chiefs to take in this draft would be a nose tackle, an offensive tackle, and an outside linebacker.