2012 NFL Draft: 5 Defensive Playmakers K.C. Chiefs Absolutely Must Consider
In seven of the last 10 drafts, the Kansas City Chiefs spent their first draft pick on a defensive player. The Chiefs have had hapless luck with defensive players early in the draft.
Those seven draft picks consist of Ryan Sims, Junior Siavii (round two), Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Eric Berry.
Under Scott Pioli as the general manager, who came away with a huge draft pick in Berry, the Chiefs have a chance to turn draft picks like Sims, Siavii, Dorsey and Jackson into long-distant memory. Pioli will need to evaluate talent carefully. Especially when it comes to defensive linemen, where the Chiefs have had unfortunate struggles in that position through the draft.
Since drafting Johnson in 2005, the Chiefs did not draft a linebacker until Cameron Sheffield in 2010 (this excludes Hali, who was drafted as a defensive end in 2006 before switching to outside linebacker in 2009.) The Chiefs may want to consider a linebacker in this year's draft.
Kansas City's defense has came away with some big games this season. The Chiefs can add a few more playmakers and make the Chiefs a force to be reckoned in the league.
ILB, Luke Kuechly, Boston College
The Chiefs could use another key interior linebacker alongside Johnson. Romeo Crennel has to know that Jovan Belcher is not Kansas City's most viable option.
While the Chiefs do have two outstanding linebackers in Johnson and Hali, their linebacking corps still lack a lot of depth. Luke Kuechly could come in and help the Chiefs improve on their tackling and help stop the run.
ILB, Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
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If the Chiefs continue to play at a high level, like they did last week against Green Bay, they may pick up two more wins and push themselves up in the draft. Therefore, this would be a backup pick to consider if Kuechly goes early in the draft.
Dont'a Hightower has been one of the key players on Alabama's defense, helping them limit the LSU Tigers to a season-low nine points and has another shot at LSU in the BCS championship rematch.
Like Kuechly, Hightower can come to Kansas City and make a big difference on the defense with his presence. It would benefit Johnson as he needs another reliable interior linebacker to play with.
OLB, Zach Brown, North Carolina
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I understand this slideshow has been excessive with linebackers. But that is one of Kansas City's biggest holes on the team.
If rookie Justin Houston continues to play well, you can go ahead and disregard this prediction. Houston has lit up lately and has taken the pressure of of Hali's shoulders. Hali has been the only consistent pass-rusher on the Chiefs defense with Wallace Gilberry, who does not start, coming the closest to Hali in the pass-rushing department.
Like Johnson, Hali is in desperate need of a sidekick. Zach Brown has had a lot of success with North Carolina and could be the answer to the Chiefs problems at the opposite outside linebacker position. Along with Houston, the Chiefs have also tried out Sheffield and Andy Studebaker at the other outside linebacker slot and have not had good luck.
Brown can be a mirror image of Hali and Kansas City's defense improve on many levels. Brown would be a big asset when it comes to stopping the run for rushers who attack the outside. Brown's pass-rushing abilities could also force quarterbacks to throw ill-advised passes. Those passes could turn into interceptions and can help Kansas City's offense start with good field position.
DT, Brandon Thompson, Clemson
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Another way to help Johnson is by having a strong nose tackle. Kansas City can pick one up in Brandon Thompson out of Clemson.
With Thompson's size and stature, he fits in well with Kansas City's 3-4 defense. Kelly Gregg has played very similar to Ron Edwards, keeping the issues at nose tackle alive for the Chiefs since making the switch out of the 4-3 defense in 2009.
Thompson's ability to push through, attack the quarterback and stop the run might help solve those issues.
Thompson may not be first-round material, but Pioli is known for making some surprising picks. Depending on Thompson's combine results, he could be available in the second round.
SS, Mark Barron, Alabama
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Remember when Larry Johnson was drafted as an insurance policy to keep the Chiefs running game top-notch in case Priest Holmes got hurt again? It looked like for a while it was a wise move, as Johnson earned two Pro Bowl bids due to his performance while filling in for Holmes.
What happens if Berry gets injured again? I doubt fans want to see Sabby Piscitelli get a lot of action.
Even if Berry is healthy, this would be huge for Kansas City's depth with the safeties. Mark Barron is another Alabama player worth looking at in the second round. Barron has very similar skill sets that Berry has.
Drafting Barron would add to an already strong corps of defensive backs.
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Assuming Crennel returns, whether it is as a head coach or as a defensive coordinator, he will need to persuade Pioli to look into some of these defensive players in the draft.
You might be asking why were there no defensive ends mentioned in this slideshow. The Chiefs have not had a lot of luck with defensive ends, along with defensive linemen. With Dorsey and Jackson on the list, add on Turk McBride, Tank Tyler, Brian Johnston and Alex Magee to the list of defensive linemen the Chiefs drafted from 2007 through 2009.
It is in Kansas City's best interest to bring in a defensive end through free agency rather than waste another draft pick on one.
As you read in Barron's slide, the Chiefs have an outstanding corps of young defensive backs, who soon can no longer be considered young now that they have been in the league together for a couple of years. Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Javier Arenas are all three reliable cornerbacks. The Chiefs will need to do some work to keep Carr.
The defense can only get better when Berry makes his return to the gridiron.
Kansas City's defense has played well as a cohesive unit in the '90s and late '60s. The Chiefs have not had a strong defensive unit in a while. But with defensive coaches like Crennel, Gary Gibbs, Anthony Pleasant and Emmitt Thomas on the staff, players will be working under accomplished coaches and can help the Chiefs become a competitive defense.