Kansas City Chiefs: Determining an Upgrade That Is Needed at Each Position

Farzin Vousoughian@farzin21Contributor IIIDecember 7, 2011

Kansas City Chiefs: Determining an Upgrade That Is Needed at Each Position

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    With the final four-game stretch coming up and college bowl games upon us, Scott Pioli and everyone involved in the evaluation process have a good understanding of what they need to seek in the offseason to augment the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012.

    The Chiefs have learned a lot about their football team this season after being given a first-place schedule. Despite losing a few players to injury, the Chiefs have still surprised many people with their poor performance and have shown what holes need to be filled in the offseason.


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    Matt Cassel's first three seasons are in the books and there are mixed opinions on him.

    Cassel ended 2009 with 16 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions.

    In 2010, Cassel threw 27 touchdown passes and one of the league's best with seven interceptions. Those numbers were good enough to get him into the Pro Bowl.

    This year, Cassel put up similar numbers he had in 2009, with his touchdown total similar to his interception total. His season ended early due to injury.

    A lot of people want a new quarterback to start for the Chiefs in 2012. No one knows what the future holds for Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton. Do Todd Haley and Pioli want to keep Orton and give him a chance to compete for a starting job?

    Many fans want a new quarterback for legitimate reasons. Consistent play from a quarterback is something the Chiefs have not seen since Trent Green played.

    Level of Need: Moderate

Running Back

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    Jamaal Charles is labeled as the team's most valuable player. His season-ending injury was something the Chiefs did not need.

    His absence has led to inconsistent play at the running back position from Dexter McCluster, Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones.

    Jones is wrapping up his two-year contract. It is doubtful that he returns. Battle and McCluster are both young and could serve as backups for Charles.

    However, there may be better options for the Chiefs to find a backup running back to help Charles carry the rock.

    Level of Need: Moderate


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    Aside from Le'Ron McClain's rookie season, he is on pace to have a career low for carries and receptions in a single season. McClain was an active fullback for four years with the Baltimore Ravens and has not been able to carry his skill set over to Kansas City.

    McClain has been able to create some blocks for the running backs, but he isn't the Pro Bowler that he was recognized as.

    McClain signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs. Pioli has an important decision to make as the Chiefs may need to search for a new fullback.

    Level of Need: High

Wide Receiver

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    Dwayne Bowe made a big name for himself last season after leading the league in receiving touchdowns.

    Along with the rest of the team, Bowe has taken a few steps back and is trying to lead an offense that is missing a couple of key players.

    Behind Bowe, the Chiefs added Steve Breaston, who hasn't had the season we all expected from him. Rookie Jonathan Baldwin isn't having the hottest season for a first-round draft pick either. Baldwin missed nearly half of the season due to a thumb injury. Baldwin has made a small impact on the team this season.

    Drafting another wide receiver in the first round would not be a wise move since it was done last season. The Chiefs will also need to do everything in their power to keep Bowe as he is in the final year of his rookie contract.

    Level of Need: High

Tight End

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    Here is another position where the Chiefs know who their starter is, but was unavailable this season due to a torn ACL.

    Tony Moeaki was expected to have a better season in his second season since being drafted out of the University of Iowa.

    Leonard Pope has had some flashes for the Chiefs, but is better suited as a backup tight end. Behind Pope, the Chiefs have Jake O'Connell and Anthony Becht. Both O'Connell and Becht have been used as blocking tight ends.

    When Charles returns, Moeaki and Company will need to play well beside the offensive tackles. Speedsters, like Charles, like to attack the outside and follow the lead of a fullback to help provide a big hole.

    Receiving-wise, the Chiefs have not had a lot go their way with this position with Moeaki's absence. When he returns with one year of experience under his belt, he could help the Chiefs forget about the 2011 season.

    Level of Need: Low

Offensive Tackle

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    Barry Richardson has managed to keep a starting spot in Kansas City for the last two seasons. This time, he may have to take a seat, or perhaps find a new team to play for.

    Richardson has not been a reliable player at the right tackle position, which is currently Palko's blind side.

    Finding a new offensive tackle would benefit the Chiefs in multiple ways.

    Cassel would have better protection and Charles would be comfortable running to the right and has a better chance of breaking through for a long touchdown run.

    The Chiefs also need to keep an eye on left tackle Branden Albert, who has suffered some injuries during games in his career. Albert has also been inconsistent from time to time, being penalized for false start and holding penalties.

    Level of Need: Very high

Offensive Guard

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    Letting go of Pro Bowler Brian Waters at the beginning of training camp is turning into a head-scratching move by the Chiefs.

    This season, the Chiefs have received active play from Ryan Lilja, Jon Asamoah and rookie Rodney Hudson. The Chiefs have been up and down at this position and have allowed opposing defensive players to come through the middle and apply pressure on Cassel and Palko.

    Hudson was a pleasant surprise for the Chiefs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which he started his first game. League scouts believe Hudson also has the ability to play center.

    Asamoah is in his second season, but his first as the primary guard. Lilja has been on the parade of inconsistency.

    Grabbing a new offensive guard isn't the biggest need, but it must be addressed in the offseason in order for the Chiefs to have a better season in 2012.

    Level of Need: Moderate


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    Casey Wiegmann was retained by the Chiefs after the lockout was lifted, despite turning 38 years old a week before the lockout ended.

    Wiegmann is not playing as well as he was last season when he returned for a second stint with the Chiefs and will turn 39 in July.

    This puts the Chiefs in a position where they must consider either placing Hudson at the center position or find a vetran center through free agency.

    Level of Need: Very high

Defensive End

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    Tyson Jackson's progress has been slow since coming out of LSU. However, this season has been Jackson's best.

    Jackson has been able to stay on his feet and not get knocked down as often. This past week, Jackson recorded his first sack of the season, which is the second of his career.

    Glenn Dorsey switching over to defensive end in a 3-4 scheme in 2009 has not been fun for him. The Chiefs have seen very few plays from him and may need to consider Wallace Gilberry to start at defensive end.

    Level of Need: Low

Nose Tackle

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    The experiment with Kelly Gregg replacing Ron Edwards has not been good so far. In fact, it is starting to look as if Gregg and Edwards are very similar.

    The Chiefs do not have the strongest group of defensive linemen and were hoping Gregg could anchor the defensive line as the team's new nose tackle.

    Gregg may return in 2012, but the Chiefs should consider a key backup through free agency.

    Level of Need: Moderate

Inside Linebacker

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    Derrick Johnson has evolved into one of the league's best inside linebackers in the game today.

    Johnson has over 100 tackles and is on pace to set a franchise record for tackles in a single season. Johnson has been most effective against the run this season.

    Alongside Johnson is Jovan Belcher, who isn't the best starting inside linebacker. In order for the Chiefs to have a strong group of linebackers, a change inside is one to consider.

    Level of Need: Moderate

Outside Linebacker

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    Tamba Hali is having another good season at outside linebacker with eight sacks and two forced fumbles. Hali is expected to finish the season as the Chiefs' leading sacker for the fourth consecutive season.

    Hali is being noticed as one of the better linebackers in the AFC after having a strong showing in multiple prime-time games this season and could earn another ticket to the Pro Bowl.

    Chiefs fans were very surprised to see rookie Justin Houston play well this Sunday. Houston not only earned his first career sack, but he took Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie down two more times.

    Andy Studebaker and Cameron Sheffield have not lived up to expectations as Houston continues to make strides.

    For now, I will consider this a big need for the Chiefs. If Houston can can prove he was not a one-game wonder and that he is the right player at outside linebacker opposite of Hali, it gives the Chiefs one fewer position to consider in the offseason.

    Level of Need: Very high


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    The Chiefs can't help but to be impressed with what they are getting from their cornerbacks drafted in 2008.

    Brandon Flowers had a very slow start to the season, but has been able to adjust after losing Eric Berry for the season and not having much safety help.

    Brandon Carr is having the best season of his career by getting takeaways and limiting opposing receivers.

    Flowers and Carr are part of a team that could be soon recognized as one of the teams with a very strong core of defensive backs.

    The only reason the Chiefs would need to consider a player for this position is if they want a new reserve cornerback.

    Level of Need: Very low


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    No one was expecting the Chiefs to lose Berry on the first game of the season.

    Berry's season-ending injury has taken a big toll on the defensive backs as Berry led the team during his rookie season in 2010 in interceptions.

    Although Berry was lost for the season, Jon McGraw and Kendrick Lewis have stepped up in his position, trying to form a dangerous core of defensive backs in 2012 when Berry returns.

    McGraw and Lewis each have three interceptions on the season. When Berry returns, Haley should consider a starting Berry and Lewis and have McGraw actively rotate with the safeties.

    If the Chiefs continue to play well up front and apply a lot of pressure next season, the cornerbacks and safeties will be a force to be reckoned with that will keep opposing offensive coordinators up late at night.

    Level of Need: Very low

Special Teams

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    Dustin Colquitt continues to show that he is one of the best punters in the NFL and is not expected to decline anytime soon.

    Ryan Succop got off to a very slow start to the season, making only 2-of-4 field goals. Since the second half of Week 3, Succop has made all 16 of his field-goal attempts.

    Long snapper Thomas Gafford has not made any errors snapping the football since becoming a Chief.

    The Chiefs have one of the best punt returners in the game in Javier Arenas, but he doesn't have the touchdowns to show for it. Arenas, who was a successful punt returner in college, could take one to the house at some point before the season comes to an end.

    Level of Need: Very low