Kansas City Chiefs: 5 Players Who Could Break Out in 2011
The 2010 season was a good one in Kansas City.
After a miserable three-year stretch from 2007-2009 that featured only 10 wins, the Chiefs bounced back to AFC West supremacy and matched those 10 wins under the guidance of general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley.
The task at hand for the Chiefs in 2011 is to prove that 2010 was no fluke, and continue to build toward the organization's ultimate goal of consistently competing for championships.
Adding valuable pieces to the roster through the draft, free agency and trades will surely help to reach that goal, but Pioli and Haley know just how pivotal of a role player development will play in the Chiefs' quest to take their success to new heights under their regime.
The Chiefs are loaded with talent under the age of 25, so here' a look at five players who may dramatically improve and break out in 2011.
Tight End: Tony Moeaki
Moeaki impressed as a rookie in 2010 with his natural catching ability (check the pic above) and dependability as a route runner.
This year, look for Haley to use Moeaki in an incredibly diverse role--one that may have him aligning all over the line of scrimmage and perhaps even as an H-back in the backfield.
Moeaki has outstanding footwork at the top of his breaks and very good in-line power as a blocker to engage his defender and win at the point of attack. Quarterback Matt Cassel came to trust Moeaki early and often in 2010, but the sky is the limit on what Moeaki will do with an increased role and stronger rapport with Cassel and the rest of his offensive mates in 2011.
Cornerback: Brandon Carr
Quick: name the defensive back who led the NFL in passes defended in 2010? Nope, not Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha, or Champ Bailey. The answer would be none other than Chiefs' cornerback Brandon Carr.
Carr plays second fiddle to fellow cornerback Brandon Flowers in Kansas City, but the fourth-year pro from Grand Valley State should play a major role in Chiefs' defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's defense in 2011.
He has very good linear speed, excellent strength and excels in run support.
He will need to improve his ability to launch out of his backpedal and trigger back towards the ball. His biggest weakness in 2010 was (shockingly) his ball skills.
Carr's passes defended numbers indicate he has the ability to find the ball, he'll just need to capitalize on his opportunities and turn those PDs into INTs. Carr picked off just one pass in 2010, but expect that number to rise in 2011.
Offensive Guard: Jon Asamoah
Jon Asamoah may be a relative unknown to Chiefs' fans, but the guy can flat out play. Asamoah saw limited action in 2010, but he has the skills to be the Chiefs best (yes, their best) offensive lineman in 2011.
Asamoah has excellent straight-line power, is a fierce competitor and plays with a boatload of nasty. He's physical at the point of attack and a relentless blocker. Asamoah will infuse youth and power into a running game that already was the league's best in 2010. Chiefs' fans will miss Brian Waters, but Asamoah's play on the field in 2011 will be even better than Waters' from 2010. He'll be a cog on the Chiefs' line for many years to come.
Outside Linebacker: Justin Houston
Granted Houston is a rookie, but that doesn't exclude him from our list. Houston's dubious off-field behavior left him sitting in Round 3 when the Chiefs snagged him with the 70th overall pick.
Off-field issues aside, Houston has a dynamic skill set that may afford the Chiefs the complimentary pass rusher to Tamba Hali they desperately lack. Houston has excellent speed to turn the corner, has a very good first step, and the closing burst to track down scrambling quarterbacks.
Houston likely won't be called upon to man a heavy role right away in 2011, but pass rushers are an invaluable commodity to any defense, and Romeo Crennel may turn to him early if he needs a spark.
Running Back: Jamaal Charles
Before you say that Jamaal Charles already was a breakout star in 2009 and 2010, consider this: Charles is not even 25, and has never toted the rock more than 230 times in one season.
Early indications are that Charles will see a heavier dose of the carries in 2011, as veteran Thomas Jones should be relegated to a true back-up role. This is in lieu of splitting carries with Charles, as was the case in 2010.
Additionally, Charles' role as a receiver should blossom in 2011. He was unrefined as a route runner in 2010, but with another training camp to develop a feel for the short passing-tree routes, Charles may add yet another element to his already dynamic game.
Charles has already proven he's a hard guy to take down, but looking at his physique this preseason, it's apparent he's dedicated himself to bulking up and becoming an even better power runner.
Charles' blazing speed should scare every defender in the NFL.
Expect another huge year from the former Longhorn in 2011.