After being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs in 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs went into the offseason looking to upgrade a few key areas. Once the lockout ended, the Chiefs jumped into action, filling those needs. Many moves were made, leading to, what Kansas City hopes, is a better all around team.
Of course not all moves can be good.
With training camp now in full swing, these players are beginning to show what they can do on the field. Some will produce well enough to validate their presence on the team; others will be cut long before the season begins.
Here are grades for all of the moves made by the Kansas City Chiefs. Hopefully these changes are good enough to get back into the playoffs and, essentially, pass their test.
Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver: Trading down to get Baldwin gave the Chiefs an extra third-round pick while still providing them with a strong receiver. While Baldwin was not the best receiver in the draft, he fits Kansas City’s needs and will develop into a very good NFL player. B+
Rodney Hudson, Center: With Casey Wiegmann discussing retirement during the offseason and Rudy Niswanger not under contract, the Chiefs grabbed Hudson as a future replacement for Wiegmann. While he was a strong choice, the Chiefs seemingly ignored more important needs such as defensive tackle with this pick. B+
Justin Houston, Linebacker: Houston is a first-round talent who fell to the third because of character issues. With a coach like Todd Haley and a general manager like Scott Pioli, Houston will be expected to behave. Based purely on talent, this was the best choice in the draft and if Houston stays out of trouble, this could be a major get for the Kansas City defense. A+
Allen Bailey, Defensive End/ Defensive Tackle: With major needs on the defensive line, Bailey is a smart choice all around. Bailey can pass rush and line up anywhere he is needed on the defensive line. His instincts are there and, with a bit of coaching, he will become a serious threat on defense. B+
Jalil Brown, Cornerback/ Safety: The coaches in the Big 12 recognized Brown as one of the top cornerbacks in the league after 2011 due to his explosive play and speed. While these are very valuable skills that the Chiefs will be able to use, he is not a player that will make a huge impact his rookie season. B-
Ricky Stanzi, Quarterback: With a huge need at quarterback, the Chiefs drafted a project in Stanzi. While Stanzi’s physical abilities make him a good backup and potential starter in the NFL, currently Stanzi’s decision making will keep him from threatening Matt Cassel’s job anytime soon. B-
Gabe Miller, Linebacker: After drafting Justin Houston earlier, the Chiefs returned to the linebacker pool to grab Gabe Miller. While Miller is very talented, he is unlikely to get any significant time playing with a crowded group of outside linebackers. He will have to earn his playing time, competing against Houston, Tamba Hali and Andy Studebaker. C-
Jerrell Powe, Nose Tackle: With a serious lack of talent at nose tackle, this pick becomes even more important after the departure of Ron Edwards. Powe has a large upside, so this pick can go one of two ways: Powe becomes a sixth-round pick who is a great player in the NFL, or Powe rides the bench throughout his career. If he reaches his potential, the Chiefs have a solid, if not spectacular, tackle on their defense. C+
Shane Bannon, Running Back: Bannon was a very smart pick in the draft, providing the Chiefs with a true fullback. After the signing of Le’Ron McClain, a two-time All-Pro player, choosing Bannon seems significantly less important. C+
Scott Pioli, once again, proved himself to be very shrewd in the draft. The potential of this class is high and, with the proper amount of coaching, leaves Kansas City with a strong future.
Overall Grade: B-
Le’Ron McClain, Running Back: The last good fullback that wore a Chiefs uniform was Tony Richardson. Since then, Kansas City has been, for the most part, ineffective at the fullback position. Signing a two-time All-Pro is a step in the right direction. He should improve an already stellar running game, bringing great downfield blocking with him. A
Steve Breaston, Wide Receiver: When Kansas City was looking for a good slot receiver, Breaston’s name came up several times. The last time he was very successful, Todd Haley was his offensive coordinator in Arizona. Reuniting the two sets the Chiefs up with another dangerous receiving threat. A-
Chris Manno, Wide Receiver: When the signing of Chris Manno was announced, everyone wondered why exactly the Chiefs were signing a player out of Arena Football 2 (its developmental league). What the Chiefs have in Manno, though, is a receiver with fantastic physical attributes. There is no down side to his signing and, if he makes the final roster, Manno will be worth every penny. B
Zeke Markshausen, Wide Receiver: After failing to make the Chicago Bears final roster last season, Markshausen is giving the NFL another shot. Markshausen proved he could catch the ball in college, being named two the second All-Big 10 team his senior year. His chances of making the team are slim however, and Markshausen may spend another season unemployed. C
Charlie Gantt, Tight End: With Tony Moeaki currently injured, signing Charlie Gantt takes on new meaning. Gantt went undrafted despite being one of the most successful tight ends in Michigan State history. Gantt is a good tight end, but he is very raw. He might make a difference, but it will not come without a good deal of coaching. C
Chris Harr, Tackle: With a weak offensive line, Harr is one of four tackles who will be vying for a spot on the final roster. Harr is quick, but he is not the most effective run blocker, an aspect of the Chiefs offense that could leave him on the bench or off the team. C-
Mike Ingersoll, Tackle: Ingersoll is a versatile tackle, having lined also lined up at tight end at the University of North Carolina. Ingersoll is another good pick up for the Chiefs. While he may not be a starter, he should earn a spot as a backup lineman. B-
Butch Lewis, Guard/Tackle: One of the better undrafted guards out there, Lewis was versatile enough to line up at guard and tackle at USC. He will earn a spot on the roster out of training camp and might become a starter in the next couple of seasons. B
David Mims, Tackle: Mims looks to have a very strong future in the NFL. With many draft experts slating Mims to be selected in the fifth round, he went undrafted, allowing the Chiefs to pick him up in free agency. Mims is likely to be a backup but could earn more playing time by season's end. B+
Kansas City addressed their major weaknesses, signing a talented wide receiver in Steve Breaston and a great blocking back in Le’Ron McClain. If the Chiefs had done more with their offensive line, this easily would be an A.
As it stands now, the line is still weaker than Kansas City would prefer, but with the potential to turn into a much more steady group of blockers.
Overall Grade: B
Brandon Bair, Defensive End: Bair is an athletic player—getting time at tight end, defensive end and defensive tackle at the University of Oregon. His athletic ability allows him to break up passes as well as get into the backfield and cause damage. Unfortunately, Bair does not have a definitive position in the NFL. This allows him to be molded into a tackle or defensive end as Todd Haley sees fit, but it means Bair will most likely not be a huge factor in 2011. C
Kelly Gregg, Nose Tackle: After 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Gregg was released. Needing depth at nose tackle, the Chiefs were there to scoop him up. Gregg is on the downhill slope of his career. 2010 saw Gregg finish with his lowest tackle total since 2001 and no sacks for the first time since he played three games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. The Chiefs are hoping Gregg provides a veteran leadership, but he may leave a big hole in the middle of the defensive line. D+
Lucas Patterson, Defensive End/ Defensive Tackle: Patterson is a fast player who went undrafted this year. The Chiefs should be able to use Patterson for the pass rush. He will not be a starter, but he should make the roster and earn some time on the field. C+
Amara Kamara, Linebacker: Amara Kamara has a lot going for him: good speed, good instincts, a rhyming name. All of this will make Kamara one of the more popular Chiefs players if he gets playing time. With a good showing at training camp, Kamara should make the roster and see some snaps in his rookie season. B
Brandon Siler, Linebacker: Siler showed himself to be a good inside linebacker in San Diego, recording 43 tackles two seasons ago while starting only seven games. He is a very talented player who will get his chance to shine in Kansas City. B+
Demond Washington, Cornerback: Demond Washington is fast. Washington probably will not get a lot of snaps on defense, but he will get some time on special teams, proving himself to be an excellent return man. His time on defense could increase if he shows an ability to adapt to the NFL over the season, but to begin with, he will not be competing for a starting job. B-
Sabby Piscitelli, Safety: Piscitelli is young and still on the rise. Piscitelli did not start a single game last season, but in 2009 he started 15, recording 80 tackles, two interceptions and five deflected passes. He has a shot at making the starting lineup, playing alongside Eric Berry. If he proves himself in training camp, expect to see a lot of Piscitelli. B
The Chiefs chose to upgrade very little on defense, a disappointing fact to the offseason. While they have set themselves up to be better in the future, for the 2011 season, very little will change.
The additions of Piscitelli and Siler could prove valuable, but overall the moves that were made are not major enough.
Overall Grade: C+
Ron Edwards, Defensive Tackle: With a lack of talent and experience at defensive tackle, the loss of Ron Edwards only adds to the issues. While Edwards is far from a superstar, he was a capable defensive tackle who had proven himself able to get the job done. Not getting Edwards re-signed leaves an awful lot of questions for Kansas City. D+
Brodie Croyle, Quarterback: Croyle has been less than successful with the Chiefs. Not re-signing him was the right move. A
Shaun Smith, Defensive End: With a logjam at defensive end for the 2011 season, the Chiefs felt no need to resign Smith. With only 30 tackles in 16 games, Smith was most notable for other players' accusations against Smith involving inappropriate on-field grabbing. Allowing Smith to sign with the Tennessee Titans was not the worst idea ever. C
Maurice Leggett, Cornerback: Leggett was a restricted free agent and the Detroit Lions signed him despite Leggett spending the last two seasons on injured reserve. Leggett was likely never going to realize the potential he showed in the 2008 season. A
Chris Chambers, Wide Receiver: After a fairly successful 2009 season, Chambers was given a three-year deal. The 2010 season showed the receiver had become complacent, never doing what he needed to do to finish the play. He was released shortly after the lockout ended, freeing up a spot on the roster and millions of dollars. A
Kevin Curtis, Wide Receiver: Curtis was signed specifically for the playoffs. His effect on the team was minimal and, with more than enough wide receivers, the Chiefs let Curtis walk. B
Brian Waters, Guard: After a full career in Kansas City, the Chiefs released Waters, allowing him a chance to find a starting spot on another team. While Waters’ skills were diminishing, he was still a very capable lineman and great veteran presence. C-
Departing players are a major part of any NFL team’s offseason. While the release of Chris Chambers stands out as a great move, losing players like Brian Waters and Ron Edwards are going to, at least for the short term, cause more harm than good.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, the loss of these players was few and far between with most of the difference makers still intact.
Overall Grade: B-
With many of the major needs filled for the Chiefs, the offense is set to be significantly better all around than in 2010.
Unfortunately a lack of talent at nose tackle and a potential underperforming set of linebackers could be the downfall of the 2011 Chiefs.
While we will not know how these moves pan out until the season wraps up, right now the Chiefs seemed to have earned a solid B-.
Hopefully the effort that these additions put in throughout the season will turn that B- into an A and turn this team into Super Bowl contenders.
2011 Kansas City Chiefs Offseason Moves Overall: B-