Sunday, April 29, 2012

Evaluating the Draft: Part 1

Now that the dust has settled from the last three days of the NFL draft, it's time to start evaluating the Chiefs selections with a clear head and an analytic approach. I know that not everyone is a fan of the Chiefs decisions, but let's go through each pick and see how they can help the Chiefs now or in the future.

Grades will be assigned for each pick as well.

1st Round - Dontari Poe
The nose tackle out of Memphis will go down as one of the most controversial picks the Chiefs have made in a long time. Not only because of the player that Poe is, but because of the unprecedented trade activity in this draft that the Chiefs chose not to take part in. Scott Pioli said that they had two willing trade partners, but that Poe wouldn't have been available that late in the draft.

Although many fans fumed at this selection (while others might have been experiencing different emotions ...), it addressed the only glaring need on the team. If you looked at any other position on the Chiefs roster, there is not one that could use a bigger upgrade than NT. I'm well aware that drafting high picks based on need is dangerous, but it's also sometimes necessary. And if you're concerned about Poe's lack of stats at Memphis, Pioli might set your mind at ease with this reasoning.

Grade: B-

2nd Round - Jeff Allen
Allen has played his entire college career at the offensive tackle position - 38 at left tackle and 9 at right tackle - but his best chance to crack the starting lineup will be at guard. Standing 6-4 and weighing 306 lbs., Allen is slightly undersized to be an NFL tackle, but is the perfect size to be a guard.

While selecting an offensive lineman in the first two rounds is an unsexy pick, they can help bolster an offensive line, and a strong offensive line will make the entire offense better. And Allen will help make it better. "He's a natural pass protector, who I think is a Day 1 starter. For Kansas City, I think he's a left guard, which is fine because he's got the skill set to do so" said Mike Mayock of NFL Network. And while I think Allen won't see the starting lineup until 2013, it's nice to have a guard learning the ropes for a season.

Grade: B+

3rd Round - Donald Stephenson
The second offensive tackle draft pick of the night by the Chiefs, Stephenson will actually stay at that position with the team, offering a viable swing tackle. Stephenson started at left tackle for two seasons with the Sooners, and it seems everyone likes to attach two descriptions with Stephenson: "high upside" and "developmental."

Both the above phrases are some of the oldest cliches in the book, but if they are accurate, then Stephenson will be a good pick up. I doubt Stephenson ever sees the field on the starting offensive line this season with Branden Albert and Eric Winston manning the edges, but Albert could be gone after the 2012 season, so drafting a potential replacement that can take the year to refine his skills and learn the system is a good idea. Plus Stephenson is one of those feel-good stories, considering he is from the KC area and is a lifelong Chiefs fan.

Grade: B

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chiefs Undrafted Free Agents

Undrafted Free Agents were able to sign with any team as soon as the draft ended on Saturday night and it didn't take long for the Chiefs to start locking up players for their team. Needs can be met and gems can be found in free agency (Arian Foster anyone?), and it usually is first come first serve as far as teams signing these players.

While most of the big UDFAs signed with teams quickly - Vontaze Burfict to the Bengals, Kellen Moore to the Lions, Case Keenum to the Texans - there are still some players that are unsigned that I would love to see the Chiefs grab. They are:

Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
With Wiegmann retired and Hudson really the only option for next season at center, I'd love to add the depth that Brewster would offer.

Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Minnifield, the son of a former NFL cornerback, having micro fracture surgery certainly killed his draft stock. But his loss can become the Chiefs gain.

Sean Richardson, SS, Vanderbilt
I know the Chiefs addressed the safety position in the draft, but there's no reason not to bring in Richardson, who was projected as a mid-round draft pick.

Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa St
He's a press corner that lacks most of anything else. Still, if we're in the market for defensive backs then why not?

Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee
I'll take a flier on an undrafted running back from Tennessee (see above UDFA example: Foster, Arian).

I would also like a tight end, but there are no more remaining that I care for. Would have loved Hanna or Dunsmore in the 7th, but alas. In the meantime, here are UDFAs rumored to have already signed with the Chiefs:

Justin Cheadle, G, California
Tysyn Hartman, S, Kansas St
Nate Eachus, RB, Colgate
Brandon Kinnie, WR, Nebraska
Josh Bellamy, WR, Louisville
Jean Fanor, S, Bethune-Cookham
Taylor Gentry, FB, NC State
Terrence Parks, SS, Florida St
Neiko Thorpe, FS, Auburn
Cam Holland, C, UNC
Ethan Johnson, DE, Notre Dame

Chiefs 6th through 7th round picks

With the 182nd pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Cyrus Gray, RB, from Texas A&M.

Gray, 5-10 and 198 lbs., will add depth to the running back position for the Chiefs and will essentially replace Jackie Battle. The Chiefs current running back situation is Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis (on a one year contract), Dexter McCluster, and now we can add Gray to that list. Gray finished last season with 198 carries, 1,045 yards and 12 TDs rushing as well as 31 catches for 239 yards and 3 TDs receiving.

With the 218th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Jerome Long, DL, from San Diego St.

Long is 6-5 and 285 lbs and looks to add depth on the defensive line for the Chiefs, probably as a pass rushing defensive end. Long finished his senior campaign with 69 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks.

With the 238th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Junior Hemingway, WR, from Michigan.

The opposite of the small and speedy Wylie drafted earlier in the fourth round, Hemingway is the larger breed of wide receiver, standing 6-1 and weighing 222 lbs. Hemingway appeared in 48 career games with Michigan, and finished his senior season with 34 catches, 669 yards and 4 TDs.

Chiefs take DeQuan Menzie in the 5th Round

DeQuan Menzie - Allstate BCS National Championship Game - LSU v Alabama

With the 146th pick in the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected DeQuan Menzie, S, from Alabama.

Although Menzie, 5-11 202 lbs., is listed as a S, he played nickel cornerback at Alabama, actually replacing Javier Arenas after he was drafted by the Chiefs in 2010. It will be interesting to see where Menzie plays at for the Chiefs, whether it be at safety or as a nickel/dime CB. But that kind of versatility is good for the Chiefs, and having a solid group of defensive backs is always hoped for.

At Alabama, he was a solid run stopper and decent in coverage. Depending on where the Chiefs project Menzie to play will also effect where else the Chiefs can aim in this draft. If they see him as a safety, then CB can be a target with the Chiefs three remaining picks today. If they see him as a CB, then there are still quality safeties left on the board.

Chiefs Take Devon Wylie in the 4th

With the 107th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs took Devon "Wiggle" Wylie, WR from Fresno St.

With or without Dwayne Bowe playing next season (he has yet to sign his franchise tender and some rumors have it he is upset with the Chiefs for franchising him and won't work on a long-term contract), the slot receiver position was one that the Chiefs were looking to improve this coming season.

There has been a misconception that Steve Breaston is a slot receiver, because that's what he was in Arizona when both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were there. With the Chiefs, however, Breaston played outside mostly, with Jehreme Urban and Keary Colbert filling in playing the slot last year.

Wylie, 5-9 185 lbs., is a speed guy, running a 4.39 40 yard dash at the combine, as well as putting up 17 reps on the bench press. Wylie was never a full time starter at Fresno St., and was injury prone during his time at Frenso St, but scouting page also said that his injuries perhaps make him a "hidden gem" in this year's wide receiver draft class. He finished with 56 catches for 716 yards and 1 TD last season.

Entering Day 3 of the Draft

On Day 2 of the draft, the Chiefs picked Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson, both college offensive tackles. When you combine yesterday's draft with Thursday's first-round selection, the Chiefs have added about 1,000 lbs. of beef across the lines of both sides of the ball.

I still think there are several positions that the Chiefs still need to address, and today offers them their last chance to draft those positions:


Here are the best players still available at those positions after yesterday's draft (I'll be updating throughout today's draft):

Inside Linebacker
Keenan Robinson (Texas) RSr., 6-3, 242 lbs. - Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
James-Michael Johnson (Nevada) RSr., 6-1, 241 lbs. - Projected Round: 4th - 5th

George Iloka (Boise St) Sr., 6-4, 225 lbs. - Projected Round: 2nd - 3rd
Trenton Robinson (Michigan St) Sr., 5-10, 195 lbs. - Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
Markelle Martin (Oklahoma St) RSr., 6-1, 207 lbs. - Projected Round: 4th

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chiefs take Donald Stephenson in 3rd Round

Donald Stephenson Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson #59 of the Oklahoma Sooners grabs the facemask of Brandon Jenkins #49 of the Florida State Seminoles at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Norman, Oklahoma.

With the 74th overall pick, the Chiefs selected Donald Stephenson, Offensive Tackle, from Oklahoma.

I am a bit surprised by the Chiefs 3rd round pick, since I figured that Jeff Allen, selected in the 2nd round, was enough of an insurance policy for Branden Albert at LT. Obviously, I was wrong, and the Chiefs want as much depth at the tackle position as they can get with Albert's free agency approaching at the end of the 2012 season.

Stephenson is a two year starter at OkSt, and ranked as the 11th best OT prospect on CBS Sports. I don't think that bringing in Stephenson is a sign that they aren't going to try to resign Albert, just a sign that they know sometimes negotiations don't go the way they want and that having a valid backup plan is sometimes the best leverage a team can have when sitting down for contract discussions.

I would have prefered to see the Chiefs pick up an ILB, S, CB, or WR in the 3rd round with some exceptional value still available, but it is clear that the Chiefs are stockpiling depth in this draft, which is usually a good strategy, especially considering last season.

Chiefs Take Jeff Allen in 2nd Round

With the 44th overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Jeff Allen, an offensive tackle, from Illinois.

While the Chiefs aren't in real need at the tackle position, Allen, 6-4 307 lbs, is projected to play guard at the NFL level. I imagine that Allen, much like his former Illinois teammate Jon Asamoah, will sit and learn his first year with the Chiefs, eventually replacing Ryan Lilja in 2013. However, Allen does give the Chiefs needed versatility along the offensive line.

Allen, a team captain, offers the Chiefs a swing tackle as well as an insurance policy to current LT Branden Albert, who is entering the final year of his contract. In his four years with the Illini, he played both tackle positions and started 47 consecutive games. While I preferred Kelechi Osemele to make the conversion from tackle to guard, I do like what Allen has to offer the Chiefs and once again, Scott Pioli filled a need that the Chiefs had entering the draft.

Entering Day 2 of the Draft

No matter what you think of the Chiefs first round pick, Dontari Poe (and here's a good take on it from Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star), an organization doesn't build a good team from only Thursday night's selections. It's how well teams draft on day two, for rounds 2 through 3, that usually determines if a team can become a contender or not.

The Chiefs filled perhaps their biggest team need on Thursday drafting a nose tackle, but there are still areas that the Chiefs need to address and still plenty of good players remaining on the board. Here are my positional needs for depth the Chiefs have in somewhat of a particular order:


Going in to Friday, here are the best players available at those positions according to CBS Sports (I will update them as the draft progresses, so check back often):

Inside Linebacker
Mychal Kendricks (California) Sr., 5-11, 240 lbs. - Projected Round: 2nd
Keenan Robinson (Texas) RSr., 6-3, 242 lbs. - Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
James-Michael Johnson (Nevada) RSr., 6-1, 241 lbs. - Projected Round: 4th - 5th

Thursday, April 26, 2012

With the 11th Overall Pick ...

With the 11th overall pick, the Chiefs selected Dontari Poe, NT, from Memphis.

This is going to be a highly controversial pick, made apparent by the backlash of tweets I saw screaming across the twitterverse seconds after Roger Goodell read Poe's name off the card. It didn't take long for Dontari Poe to start trending nationally on Twitter, and it was hard to find comments supporting the pick.

With a plethora of trades taking place within the first ten picks of this year's draft, I'm not sure if people are more disappointed with the decision to draft Poe or the inability to trade back (the pick before the Chiefs was a trade and the pick after the Chiefs was a trade). Either way, Poe has a lot of proving to do with Chiefs fans to justify his high draft status following a lackluster college performance and one outstanding combine. Workout warriors, with little more to show for their football performance, are going to be high risk/high reward selections.

Nose tackle was a position of need for the Chiefs, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago here. However, I think there were just as good if not better options in the second and third rounds to fill that need. I mean, Poe was a second-team Conference USA selection. Once again, a SECOND-TEAM CONFERENCE USA selection. In case you aren't that familiar with college football, the Conference USA is not quite the SEC.

I'm going to take a wait-and-see approach with Poe. I am one of those fans that need a lot of convincing, but I am willing to give Poe a chance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chiefs Seven Round Draft

With the start of the NFL Draft beginning on Thursday evening, it's time for me to do my best in predicting all the Chiefs picks through all seven rounds. Last year, I attempted to do the same thing, which I will admit was complicated by the lack of free agency, and went a stunning 0-9 (I did have the Chiefs trading down in the first round for an additional mid-round pick, so I guess that is a positive). But alas, I am not deterred from attempting it again.

Here we go.

1st Round: 11th Overall
Since I've already done my 1st round mock draft, I'll just leave the pick the same and go with Luke Kuechly, ILB from Boston College. I really think that the Chiefs trade back in this scenario to gather more picks, but I just don't know who the Chiefs would take later in the first round. I'm aware that Kuechly hasn't visited with the Chiefs and Scott Pioli has yet to draft a player in the first round that he hasn't visited with beforehand, so I'm not feeling very confident in this pick but it would be best-player-available if the Chiefs stay at 11 and pick Kuechly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tyson Jackson Restructures Contract

Tyson Jackson did something very interesting yesterday, he restructured his contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. I call it very interesting because it effects both the Chiefs and Jackson more than a typical contract restructuring would. Let me explain.

During the 2012 season, Jackson was scheduled to make a little over $8 million in base salary. After the restructuring, Jackson has reduced his 2012 base salary to $4.25 million, with $4 million guaranteed. This is nearly a 50% paycut for the former #3 overall pick in 2009, and just by looking at the money the Chiefs saved on Jackson's contract this season, one would believe that this was a great move by the Chiefs. However, it's not that simple. 

The restructured deal also voided out the 2014 season on Jackson's contract in terms of the salary cap, and accelerated the $2.5 million in option bonus onto this year's cap. The acceleration of that money means that Jackson's 2012 cap number will be $9.5 million, only a $1.255 million savings from what Jackson was originally scheduled to count against the cap. That's not much of a discount.

Jason LaConfora of did point out that "as a practical matter the 2014 seasons for Jackson ... were already set to void as per the language in the original contracts. So it was already going to happen, it is just now in the language of the new contracts." So, for all intents and purposes, it hasn't changed the 2014 part of the deal all that much. The most interesting part of the contract restructuring, however, is what it did, or didn't do, for the 2013 season. 

The contract restructure still means Jackson is scheduled to make an albatross of a 2013 pay day, with $14.72 million in base salary and another $3.2 million in guaranteed money. I'm going to guess that if Jackson continues to improve this season, the Chiefs will try to sign him to a new deal after this season so they won't have to incur such an unreasonable price. Otherwise, why would Jackson restructure his contract when he didn't have to? The Chiefs had plenty of money left under the cap, so the restructuring almost seems like a ultimatum to Jackson, turning 2012 into a contract year. After all, if Jackson doesn't perform, a cut is very possible before next season.

The issues don't stop there, however, considering the position that Jackson plays. 2012 might essentially be a contract year for Jackson, but it IS a contract year for Glenn Dorsey, the other defensive end in the Chiefs 3-4 scheme. The Jackson-Dorsey duo finished first and second in the NFL for defensive end stops in 2011, and if both have good seasons in 2012, the Chiefs will have a tough decision ahead of them, perhaps similar to the one they just faced last season with the Brandon Flowers-Brandon Carr scenario.

Personally, I think Jackson might be a better investment long term than Dorsey. Jackson is the prototypical size for a 3-4 DE, while Dorsey was brought in to Kansas City when the Chiefs were still playing a 4-3. The result is that Dorsey is slightly undersized to play the position, but his performance has still been solid since he joined the Chiefs as the fifth overall pick in 2008. 

While both Dorsey and Jackson are teammates, they will definitely both be competing for a new contract against each other; either for the Chiefs or in free agency.

Draft Projection: Ryan Tannehill

Mock drafts are opinions, and thus, everyone seems to have one. And there have been a fair share of those mock drafts that have Texas A&M's quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, going 11th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. And while I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion - and their mock draft - I happen to find this possible pick the most potentially interesting one in the draft.

Ryan Tannehill, 6-4 222 lbs, is considered by just about everybody as the third best quarterback on the board. The difference between Tannehill and the first two prospects - Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III - is the most disparaging gap between players that play the same position that will likely only be taken a few picks apart. I say this because Luck and RGIII have all the looks of franchise quarterbacks while Tannehill has been conceded by most to be a developmental quarterback; but still a quarterback that most have being taken in the top-fifteen picks of the draft.

If one was to look only at Tannehill's senior season, he would still be the third quarterback off the board, but would look closer to a sure-fired franchise QB than a potentially boom-or-bust prospect. In 2011, Tannehill completed 327 of 531 attempts (62%) for 3,744 yards with 29 TDs and 15 INTs. But scouts like to look at a quarterback's full body of work, and for Tannehill, that only includes 19 starts; 19 starts at QB that is.

For Tannehill's first two seasons at Texas A&M, he was converted to a wide receiver. For a QB going in the first round, this is unheard of; and unfortunately for Tannehill, it has created a learning curve that scouts are concerned about. His athleticism is a great strength, but athleticism can only get you so far at the QB position.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The First Quarter of 2012

The Chiefs schedule was announced on Tuesday, and I promised that I would break down the upcoming year by each game that is going to be played. This post starts that promise, with me breaking down the first quarter of the Chiefs 2012 schedule (I'm also going to skip discussing the preseason).

Week 1: Sunday, September 9
Atlanta Falcons

The Chiefs season will begin with the highest of expectations, and against an opponent that is similar to itself. With the season finally underway, the Chiefs will begin its hunt for a return to the playoffs against a team that has been to the playoffs the last two seasons. A tough test for the Chiefs against Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan and Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner is also punctuated by the first returning visit of former Chiefs tight end, Tony Gonzalez, to the stadium he once called home.

In my opinion, the result of this game will be a good litmus test of how the Chiefs will be in 2012. If they win against the good Falcons, or even barely lose the game, I will feel pretty good about the upcoming season. If it's a blowout, such as last year, it's not the end of the world but it would show that the Chiefs probably aren't ready to be a contender that many fans expect them to be.

2011 Falcons: 8th Passing (262 ypg), 17th Rushing (114.6 ypg), 20th Pass Defense (236.6 ypg), 6th Rush Defense (97 ypg); 10-6 record

Week 2: Sunday, September 16
@Buffalo Bills

For the fifth straight year, the Chiefs and Bills meet in the regular season; but this game means a little more than the other four. The last time these two teams met, the Bills blew out the Chiefs in the first game of the 2011 season, 41-7. It was also in that game when Eric Berry had his ACL torn on a probably legal but still aggravating crack-back block down field by wide receiver Stevie Johnson. While Johnson vehemently defended himself, Berry hasn't seemed one for apologies and the team in general would like to take some vengeance out on the team that started the Chiefs on such a down note in 2011.

While I would love to believe that this should be a victory for the Chiefs, I can't assume that with the Bills. As bad as the Bills have been over the last few years, in the four prior meetings with the Chiefs, they have won three of them. Their only loss was a 13-10 defeat in overtime during the 2010 season, which Chiefs fans will recall fondly ended on a last second Ryan Succop field goal before overtime expired into a tie.

2011 Bills: 15th Passing (231.4 ypg), 13th Rushing (120.1 ypg), 19th Pass Defense (232.1 ypg), 28th Rush Defense (139 ypg); 6-10 record

Week 3: Sunday, September 23
@New Orleans Saints

If there was ever a time to face the Saints, it would be near the beginning of the 2012 season. And luckily for the Chiefs, week 3 is pretty near the beginning. The reason I say the sooner the better is because of the offseason that the Saints have had this year. I'm sure everyone and their dog is aware of the Saints' BountyGate scandal, and Sean Payton suspended without pay for all of 2012. Their interim head coach, Joe Vitt, also won't be back by week 3, serving a six-week suspension for his involvement (or whatever Roger Goodell is calling it) in the scandal.

Unfortunately, Drew Brees isn't suspended, and the Saints offense should be as high-flying as ever. But without their head coach/offensive coordinator, one has to believe that if the Chiefs were going to beat the Saints, then this is their best opportunity. The following offensive statistics are still scary.

2011 Saints: 1st Passing (334.2 ypg), 6th Rushing (132.9 ypg), 30th Pass Defense (259.8 ypg), 12th Rush Defense (108.6 ypg); 13-3 record

Week 4: Sunday, September 30
San Diego Chargers

In week 4, the Chiefs will face their first division opponent and their third Pro Bowl quarterback in the month of September. The Chiefs and Chargers have played each other close over the last two seasons, and it's hard to have any fear of the Chargers anymore after the last two seasons of underwhelming performances. And if there's anything I fear less than Norv Turner in September, it's Norv Turner in September at Arrowhead.

The Chiefs have won the last two home meetings against the Chargers, and while I am not as confident against the Chargers on the road, we seem to have figured out how to beat the Chargers in Kansas City. Hopefully this year, it doesn't take a fumbled snap miracle. Then again ...

2011 Chargers: 6th Passing (276.6 ypg), 16th Rushing (116.5 ypg), 13th Pass Defense (224.4 ypg), 20th Rush Defense (122.2 ypg); 8-8 record

Predicted Chiefs Record through 4 weeks: 2-2
Being bold: 3-1

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chiefs Schedule Announced

Today was the day when next season's schedule for all 32 NFL teams was announced, and fans everywhere were waiting impatiently for the results as if they were waiting on the numbers to be revealed for a multi-million dollar lottery they had just bought a ticket for. In other words, typical NFL offseason.

The Chiefs 2012 schedule is below, as retrieved from

As you can see, the Chiefs open the season at home, and then in November play back-to-back primetime games, on on Thursday Night Football and one on Monday Night Football. The first meeting between the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos doesn't come until week 12, so Chiefs fans are going to have to wait a while to see how newly acquired Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, holds up against the Chiefs defense.

I will be coming out with a four-part series highlighting the storylines that exist between the Chiefs and their weekly opponents sometime in the near future. Just looking at the schedule, however, if the Chiefs can be in decent shape by the time the bye-week rolls around, then I like our playoff chances.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Draft Projection: David DeCastro

In Tip of the Arrowhead's 2012 mock draft of the first round, my friend 'J', who I invited to do his own mock draft to accompany mine, had the Kansas City Chiefs selecting Stanford offensive lineman, David DeCastro, with the 11th overall pick.

DeCastro is a member of that NFL-esque offense that Stanford ran and had great success with, and it's no surprise that four players from that offense are projected to be drafted in the first round (QB Andrew Luck, DeCastro, OT Jonathan Martin, TE Coby Fleener). But just because DeCastro was surrounded by such talent, including the soon-to-be number one overall pick, doesn't make his role on that team any less impressive.

The 6-5 310 lbs Senior, for good reason, is regarded as the best available guard in this year's draft. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Trophy, as well as helping anchor one of the best offensive lines in college football last season, just giving up 0.85 sacks a game, 7th best in the nation. But awards and statistics don't always tell the story, the tape usually does, and there are a lot of scouts and writers falling in love with DeCastro.

Former head coach and current FOX Sports analyst, Brian Billick, called DeCastro just as much of a "sure thing" as Andrew Luck and "may be the most complete player at his position in the draft." Yahoo Sports' Doug Farrar has even repeatedly said on Twitter that he has a "mancrush" on DeCastro. And the reason why analysts love DeCastro is his ability to do all things well on the offensive line. He is one of the best pulling guards in the nation and can pass protect with the best of them. And while the combine doesn't prove anything, just looking at the numbers DeCastro put up are very impressive:

Forty yards in 5.43 seconds, putting up 34 reps on the bench press - the second most of any offensive lineman invited to the combine -, a 29.5 inch vertical, and not to mention a 8-2 broad jump. For offensive linemen, strength below the waist is key as is technique. DeCastro impressed scouts in both.

So while DeCastro might be the best interior offensive lineman on the board, there still is one question: is there a need?

The Chiefs interior line for 2012 is projected (from right to left) as Ryan Lilja, Rodney Hudson and Jon Asamoah. Out of those three, the one that DeCastro would be looking to replace would be Lilja. Asamoah is young and looking up, while Hudson looks to be entering his first season as a starter. Lilja would be the one on the outside looking in if DeCastro is drafted.

I know there's a lot of Chiefs fans out there that have no problem with replacing Lilja, but I'm not so quick. Lilja is a better guard than many Chiefs fans give him credit for, and Pro Football Focus, a site that focuses on grading players using advanced statistics, made Lilja one of their two All-AFC West guard representatives for 2011 (the other was Louis Vasquez, SD).

DeCastro, much like Luke Kuechly, would be a luxury pick for the Chiefs. And while he might be an upgrade to the aging Lilja, the need is not that high.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Need of a Nose Tackle

The 3-4 defense in the NFL seems to be gaining more and more teams every single season, and the trend doesn't look like one that will lose popularity anytime soon. And why should it? If operated correctly, it can reek havoc on most offensive coordinators.

As LeCharles Bentley, a former two-time Pro Bowl center, said at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2010: "A 3-4 defense allows you to create more mismatches. You can be as exotic as you want to be. Defensive coordinators can become mad scientists. Bill Belichick (whose Patriots ran a 3-4 in 2010) and Rex Ryan are prime examples of that. Those blitz packages they can throw at you are unbelievable."

A 3-4 defense requires a few things to function properly. It requires two good pass rushers from the linebackers; it requires two middle linebackers that can react immediately to a play without the luxury of extra time to dissect what's being run against them; it requires two giant defensive ends that can control the line of scrimmage, absorb blockers and stop the run. The last requirement, however, is the key to running a successful 3-4 defense: nose tackle.

"If you don't have a good nose guard, you don't have a 3-4 defense." Bentley said. "You can build everything else around it. You can have a great pass-rusher. You can have a great safety like Troy Polamalu. But if you don't have a solid nose guard? You can't run a 3-4. That's the whole basis of the defense."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Draft Projection: Luke Kuechly

In Tip of the Arrowhead's 2012 Mock Draft, I had Luke Kuechly going to the Kansas City Chiefs with the 11th overall pick. While I think Scott Pioli and the Chiefs organization are looking for trade partners to move down in the draft, I didn't want to mess with it and had KC staying there and selecting Kuechly. Now I will go into a little more detail about why I selected Kuechly, and what kind of player he was and projects to be.

Kuechly is not a new name in the possible Chiefs draft pick conversation. And honestly, I'm not even sure about the pick myself. But my lack of conviction about Kuechly as a future Chief in no way reflects the sort of player Kuechly is and was at Boston College.

Kuechly, the 6-3 and 237 lbs middle linebacker, got his path to a 1st round pick underway as a freshman. In 2009 as an outside linebacker, he was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and selected to the CFN All-Freshman Defensive Team, as well as being named the Emerald Bowl's Defensive MVP. In 2010, Kuechly made the transition to middle linebacker and went on to lead the country with 183 tackles. Additionally, he was a finalist for both the Butkus and Nagurski Awards, broke Boston College's single season tackle mark, won Defensive MVP in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and was named a consensus All -American.

In Kuechly's 2011, and what ended up being last, season at Boston College, Kuechly once again lead the nation in tackles with 191, broke the FBS record for season tackles-per-game average, personally received the Butkus Award, as well as the Lombardi Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy, and Bronko Nagurski Award. It was clear that Kuechly was the best linebacker in the nation, and declared for the draft after three outstanding seasons leading Boston College's defense.

Lack of experience or only a one season sample size is not the problem in Kuechly's case. He's going to be a very good addition to any defense that drafts him. The reason I am uncertain that Kuechly fits with the Chiefs is because of where he would fit.

He's not going to replace Derrick Johnson, so Kuechly would have to play beside Johnson. Right now, that's Jovan Belcher's position, with expected competition coming from Brandon Silar this training camp. While Kuechly would be an upgrade, Belcher is a solid player and plays his role within the defense. Johnson has repeatedly praised Belcher's ability to take on blockers as the reason why he has been so dominate in tackles over the last two seasons.

Nevertheless, if a better opportunity presents itself, you have to go for it, and Kuechly might represent just that. Todd McShay of ESPN said that Kuechly could make a good weakside middle linebacker and is an "instinctive tackling machine who could flourish under [Head Coach Romeo] Crennel."

I don't disagree with this statement at all, but am just not convinced that adding a middle linebacker is the Chiefs biggest need entering 2012. And while I would love to have Kuechly as a Chief, there might be bigger fish to fry, especially looking at the lack of a nose tackle on the Chiefs roster right now. So while Kuechly is my Mock Draft pick, I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs went in another direction come the end of April.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mock Draft

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Good Friday as well as a great Royals opening day. To celebrate both occasions, I present you with a Mock Draft. As absolutely useless as Mock Drafts are, they are fun to make and usually entertaining to read. I have my picks side by side with the picks of 'J', a contributing author from earlier in the year. While his picks are on here, more detailed reasons of his picks are available on his very own blog.

So check out the picks, like them, hate them, make fun of them, and do so in the comment section. And take it easy on 'J', he tries his best ...

My Picks

J’s Picks
Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck
Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III
Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil
Matt Kalil
Jacksonville Jaguars (Trade with Browns)
Justin Blackmon
Trent Richardson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne
Morris Claiborne
Miami Dolphins (Trade with Rams)
Ryan Tannehill
Michael Floyd
Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson
Justin Blackmon
St. Louis Rams
Michael Floyd
Riley Reiff
Carolina Panthers
Melvin Ingram
Fletcher Cox
Buffalo Bills
Riley Reiff
Jonathan Martin
Kansas City Chiefs
Luke Kuechly
David DeCastro
New England Patriots (Trade with Seahawks)
Dre Kirkpatrick
Luke Kuechly
Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Martin
Melvin Ingram
Dallas Cowboys
Mark Barron
Dre Kirkpatrick
Philadelphia Eagles
Dontari Poe
Mark Barron
New York Jets
Quinton Coples
Whitney Mercilus
Cincinnati Bengals
David DeCastro
Peter Konz
San Diego Chargers
Whitney Mercilus
Cordy Glenn
Seattle Seahawks (Trade with Bears)
Dont’a Hightower
Quinton Coples
Tennessee Titans
Janoris Jenkins
Courtney Upshaw
Cincinnati Bengals
Stephen Hill
Peter Konz
Cleveland Browns
Kendall Wright
Ryan Tannehill
Detroit Lions
Stephon Gilmore
Janoris Jenkins
Pittsburgh Steelers
Fletcher Cox
Dontari Poe
Denver Broncos
Michael Brockers
Michael Brockers
Houston Texans
Cordy Glenn
Stephen Hill
Chicago Bears (Trade with Patriots)
Mike Adams
Andre Branch
Green Bay Packers
Courtney Upshaw
Nick Perry
Baltimore Ravens
Peter Konz
Mike Adams
San Francisco 49ers
Coby Fleener
Coby Fleener
New England Patriots
Nick Perry
Kendall Reyes
New York Giants
David Wilson
Doug Martin