Saturday, May 26, 2012

They Kept Us In It

First of all, I would like to bring attention to my lack of internet activity over the last week. As I mentioned on Twitter the other day, I have recently moved for the summer and am living in an apartment without internet yet (which will change at the end of the month; logging on to tonight met me with several surprises around the sports world) and am not comfortable enough to attempt any log ins at my new internship.

Now that I have established why I haven't been updating my blog, or at least my Twitter account, recently, I want to get into a certain aspect of the Chiefs 2011 defense that caught my eye. On the Chiefs official website was an article talking about how Kansas City was looking for an offensive rebound in 2012 compared to that of 2011. The article cited the Chiefs offense last year only accounting for 12.3 points per game. It was their lowest-scoring season since the strike-shortened 1982 campaign.

I could go on and on about how gawd-awful the Chiefs offense was last season. They went from 22.9 points per game and leading the NFL in rushing to a team that looked anemic at the quarterback and running back position all season. But what I also realized is that despite being 31st in the NFL in scoring, the Chiefs still won seven games.

In comparison, the other teams from 26th scoring offense and under all had less wins than that, which makes sense. If you can't score points, you can't win games. And as much as this NFL truth was in effect for the Chiefs offense, the Chiefs lived by that adage on defense.

One would expect the Chiefs win total to be somewhere around the three - four range just based off the offensive numbers, however, the Chiefs defense was 12th in points allowed per game, averaging 21.1. That's still about an eight point difference between average points scored and points allowed (not in the good way), but the defense seemed to come up big on the biggest stages and when the offense needed them the most.

Looking ahead to 2012, the defense is without Brandon Carr, but Stanford Routt is a reasonable replacement, Eric Berry plans on being back from surgery, and if Dontari Poe is worth the draft slot, then the Chiefs defense should be a force to be reckoned with. And they will benefit greatly if the Chiefs offense can sustain drives and keep the ball away from the opposing team's quarterback.

Easier said than done, I know, but if the team we had last year could win seven games and compete for a division title late in the season, then there's no reason to believe the 2012 Chiefs shouldn't be able to do the same.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Fourth Quarter of 2012

This is the homestretch, the part of the season that will most likely determine whether the Chiefs are a contender or a pretender. The last four games are vital for the Chiefs, especially being a part of the AFC West. No member of the AFC West has ran away with the division since LaDainian Tomlinson was breaking rushing touchdown records. So let's examine the ever important final four games of the season.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9
@Cleveland Browns

The Chiefs finally start a quarter of their season against a team that wasn't participating in the playoffs last season. Better yet, it's against the Cleveland Browns. I'm not sure what to expect from the Browns this coming season; after all, there offense is set to look much different than it did last season. Colt McCoy wasn't given a lot of opportunities to succeed, but recently drafted Brandon Weeden looks to take over at the quarterback position where he will have fellow first round pick, running back Trent Richardson, to hand the ball off to.

The last two times these teams met, was in 2010, when the Chiefs followed up their Monday Night Football victory over the Chargers with a win (barely) over the Browns, 16-14. The season before that, in 2009, the Browns won in KC 41-34. But the Browns are coming off a 4 win season, and if the Chiefs can't beat the Browns, even on the road, then 2012 is just not the season.

2011 Browns: 24th Passing (193.1 ypg), 28th Rushing (95.7 ypg), 2nd Pass Defense (184.9 ypg), 30th Rush Defense (147.4 ypg); 4-12 record

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16
@Oakland Raiders

This is the second time the Chiefs and Raiders square off in 2012. And just like the first time, I can't stand the Raiders.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23
Indianapolis Colts

This is one of the games that I'm most looking forward to as a Chiefs fan. The Colts are visiting the Chiefs, who square off for the third straight year, and the second straight year when Peyton Manning won't be the opposing quarterback of the Colts. Last year, when the Chiefs came from behind to win against the Colts 28-24, the opposing quarterback was the very forgettable Curtis Painter. In 2012, it will be Andrew Luck, possibly the most anticipated rookie quarterback of all time.

And not only do the Colts have a new quarterback, but a large chunk of their offense will be new faces as well. Joining Luck on offense will be fellow Stanford Cardinal Coby Fleener. Another tight end joining the team is Dwayne Allen from Clemson. The Colts also drafted running back Vick Ballard, and receivers T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill. I was particularly a fan of the Colts draft this year and am also anxiously awaiting to see what Andrew Luck will look like in the NFL. Especially in his rookie year on the worst 2011 team in an expected Chiefs victory.

2011 Colts: 27th Passing (187.2 ypg), 26th Rushing (99.6 ypg), 15th Pass Defense (227 ypg), 29th Rush Defense (143.9 ypg); 2-14 record

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30
@Denver Broncos

A fan cannot ask for a bigger regular season finale than this. The last two AFC West Champs battling it out for a potential playoff spot. And while I would prefer it to be at Arrowhead, the Chiefs will prove themselves mightily if they can win against a potentially very good team on the road. Manning was rumored this offseason to prefer playing in a warm-climate venue. Well, there's not a lot of places colder than Denver in late December, and I hope his bones are a little more achy than they usually are when these two teams meet. Is it too much to ask for? Perhaps. But it will be a heck of a game to anticipate.

Predicted Chiefs Record through 17 weeks: 10-6
Being Bold: 12-4

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fun With Rushing Numbers

The Chiefs have been known as a running team for the better part of the decade. First came Priest Holmes, then Larry Johnson inherited the backfield; and in 2009, after Johnson was released, Jamaal Charles started emerging as a star, and became a full-fledged one the next season. 2011 was a dropoff, due to the injury of Charles and the decline of Thomas Jones, but 2012 looks to put the Chiefs back in the rightful place among the league's best rushing teams.

In 2010, the Chiefs had the #1 rushing attack in the NFL. I fully expect the Chiefs to revert back to the form of old, and a big reason will be the free agent addition of Peyton Hillis. But before we get too deep into Hillis's importance, let's examine some numbers that will be important.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Third Quarter of 2012

Although Todd Haley is no longer the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, the quarter approach to a season is a popular and can be an effective one. In my evaluations of the Chiefs first two quarters (click here for the first quarter and here for the second quarter), I have the Chiefs reasonably at 4-4, and boldly at 6-2, through 9 weeks of the season. Here's how the third quarter of the year looks:

Week 10: Monday, Nov. 12
@Pittsburgh Steelers

The Chiefs will start their third quarter with a second consecutive Prime Time game - this time on Monday night  - on the road. And their opponent is one that the Chiefs have gotten to know pretty well. The Chiefs will face the Steelers for the third time in four years. In 2009, the Chiefs pulled one of the biggest upsets of the year, defeating the defending world champions in overtime at Arrowhead 27-24 (it was also the game Andy Studebaker had two interceptions). In 2011, in a Sunday Night football game at Arrowhead, the Chiefs came up short, losing 13-9 after their potential game-winning drive ended in another Tyler Palko interception (you should take away from that game the fact the Chiefs were still in the game with Tyler Palko at quarterback). 

This season has a little added rivalry between the two clubs, with former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley now the offensive coordinator for the Steelers. Haley will want vengeance on his former team, and he'll know the team's strengths and weaknesses. The Steelers have been nothing but consistently good over the years, and there's no reason to believe they will be anything less than that this season. This is the third straight quarter the Chiefs will face a 2011 playoff team, but the Chiefs seem to save their best prime time.

2011 Steelers: 10th Passing (253.4 ypg), 14th Rushing (118.9 ypg), 1st Pass Defense (171.9 ypg), 8th Rush Defense (99.8 ypg); 12-4 record

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18
Cincinnati Bengals

Facing their second straight 2011 playoff team in as many weeks, the Chiefs will need to make a statement about what kind of team they are. That's because the Bengals and Chiefs aren't that different of teams. There are striking similarities between the upstart 2011 Bengals and the upstart 2010 Chiefs. Both teams surprised most everyone on their way to a playoff appearance, and both teams had a lot of young talent. 

What's so impressive about the Bengals 2011 season is that they were the third team out of the AFC North - behind the Ravens and Steelers - and were lead by a Andy Dalton, a rookie QB, and A.J. Green, a rookie WR. They added to that offensive core by signing free agent RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis from New England. But like most surprises, success isn't a guaranteed constant. If the 2011 Bengals are like the 2010 Chiefs, then they will go through a bit of a regression this season, which could be the result of the all-to-common sophomore slump that some quarterbacks experience (see Bradford, Sam). With this game being at Arrowhead, I am looking for the Chiefs to make a positive statement. 

2011 Bengals: 20th Passing (208.8 ypg), 19th Rushing (111.1 ypg), 9th Pass Defense (211.6 ypg), 10th Rush Defense (104.7 ypg); 9-7 record

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25
Denver Broncos

Finally, this is it. The Mother-of-All-Games this season. Fans will be reserving their tickets to this game as soon as they become available, because of the importance of this game, and who is at the helm of the opposing team. Peyton Manning, the most sought after free agent in history, seemingly scorned the Chiefs as a suitor and chose their division rival, the Broncos, instead. It will be the first time Manning enters Arrowhead as a Bronco, and you would be crazy not to believe the Chiefs will respond likewise. It will also be the third straight 2011 playoff team the Chiefs face.

A lot has been said since Manning joined the Broncos about how Romeo Crennel has always planned defenses that have limited and held Manning to that of an average quarterback. If the Chiefs hope to win - remember, they couldn't even beat Tim Tebow and the Broncos in Arrowhead last season - Crennel is going to need another one of those genius game plans that put the Chiefs defense in a position to succeed against one of the greatest QBs of all time (and probably one of the best in the NFL for 2012 if his injuries heal properly). It's going to be tough, but I like the home team in this one.

2011 Broncos: 31st Passing (152.1 ypg), 1st Rushing (164.5 ypg), 18th Pass Defense (231.5 ypg), 22nd Rush Defense (126.3 ypg); 8-8 record

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2
Carolina Panthers

The Chiefs third straight home game in the quarter comes against the Carolina Panthers. Dreadful in 2010, the Panthers were awarded (?) the number one pick in the draft, which they used on QB Cam Newton. Despite the doubts surrounding Newton's selection, he went on to become Rookie of the Year, leading the Panthers to 6 hard-earned wins. 

Being in different conferences, the Chiefs and Panthers don't meet very often, last squaring off in 2008 with a 34-0 Carolina victory. And although the Chiefs have vastly improved since that time, no one should sleep on the Panthers in 2012. I truly believe they are a year or two from being a very good team, and could surprise a lot of people by contending in the very competitive NFC South this coming season. I don't, however, think they are at the level to win on the road at the kind of environment Arrowhead offers quite yet. 

2011 Panthers: 13th Passing (239.3 ypg), 3rd Rushing (150.5 ypg), 24th Pass Defense (246.8 ypg), 25th Rush Defense (130.8 ypg); 6-10 record

Predicted Chiefs Record through 13 weeks: 7-5
Being Bold: 9-3

The Second Quarter of 2012

Oops. I just realized I didn't finish my evaluation of the Chiefs schedule.  I was wanting to accomplish the task before the draft, and then, well, I forgot about it. Oh well, it gives me something to do now. For my evaluation of the Chiefs first four opponents to start 2012, click here. For the next four, just look below.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7
Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens return to Kansas City in one of the most important matchups of the season for the Chiefs. The Ravens have been among the class of the NFL over the last few seasons, and have been a perennial playoff contender since John Harbaugh landed the head coaching position. If the Chiefs have it their way, this will be an early playoff preview.

This game, however, might be beyond what the Chiefs can handle. The team has talked about trying to go back to the ways of 2010, when the Chiefs won 10 games and the AFC West. But in that season, their home playoff game was against the Ravens, and there won't be enough years in my life to heal the pain of watching that 30-7 blowout loss. Much like back then, it will depend on the play of Matt Cassel. He was a big reason we lost two years ago, maybe he can be the reason we win the second time around.

2011 Ravens: 19th Passing (213.9 ypg), 10 Rushing (124.8 ypg), 4th Pass Defense (196.3 ypg), 2nd Rush Defense (92.6 ypg); 12-4 record

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14
@Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The last time these two teams played in the regular season, it was November 2nd, 2008. The Bucs won in a 30-27 overtime thriller that Chiefs fans remember for this play and Bucs fans remember for a 21 point comeback to force OT. But these two teams couldn't look any more different four years later. Tyler Thigpen (Thigbone) ran the Chiefs offense while Jeff Garcia ran the Bucs. The differences might start at the QB position, but they don't stop there. Only a handful of either 2008 team remains with the current unit.

As far as changes are concerned, I don't think any team added to their team this offseason more than the Bucs. They signed Vincent Jackson from the Chargers, Eric Wright from the Lions, and Carl Nicks from the Saints in free agency, and then picked up an additional pick in the first round of the draft, having S Mark Barron and RB Doug Martin add to new head coach Greg Schiano's team. They might be coming off a 4 win season, but they are only one year removed from a 10 win season, and the talent is in place to be able to compete for the NFC South immediately. This will be a tough test for the Chiefs, but I like their odds against the Bucs.

2011 Bucs: 16th Passing (228.1 ypg), 30th Rushing (91.1 ypg), 21st Pass Defense (238.4 ypg), 32nd Rush Defense (156.1 ypg); 4-12 record

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28
Oakland Raiders

The second divisional game of the year for the Chiefs will also take place at Arrowhead, and this time against the hated rivals from Oakland. It hasn't been often over the last 10 years that the Raiders have finished ahead of the Chiefs in the AFC West, but that was the case last season. But just like the Raiders we all know and love, they blew their opportunity to supplant the Broncos for the division championship and lost their final game against the Chargers to end the season 8-8, still unable to break the .500 record since their Super Bowl appearing season.

It's hard to argue that the Raiders don't have the talent to succeed. Then again, it's never been about the talent in Oakland; it's been about everything else. With a new coach (which is almost a tradition) and a new GM in the Silver and Black, the future is unfortunately looking bright for the Raiders. The present, however, is still bleak, and I'm looking for the Chiefs to avenge their home loss to the Raiders last season that kept them from claiming the AFC West title as well.

2011 Raiders: 11th Passing (247.6 ypg), 7th Rushing (131.9 ypg), 27th Pass Defense (251.4 ypg), 27th Rush Defense (136.1 ypg); 8-8 record

Week 9: Thursday, Nov. 1
@San Diego Chargers

Much like last season, the Chiefs and Chargers will meet for the second and final time by the halfway point of the season. And also like last year, the two team's second meeting will take place in Prime Time. The Chiefs and Chargers kick off on Thursday night for the world to watch, and if it's anything like the last TWO prime time games these teams have squared off in, then Chiefs fans will be in for a heck of a ride. The disadvantage this year is that the game does not take place in Arrowhead. The Chiefs haven't been very successful in San Diego over the Philip Rivers years, but the Chiefs are looking to stop that trend here.

Predicted Chiefs Record through 9 weeks: 4-4
Being bold: 6-2

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The following is my long and rambling opinion on concussions in the NFL (you know, since everyone else is doing it). Read if you have nothing else to do or just really enjoy reading.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Look to Chiefs Rookie Mini Camp

Chiefs Rookie mini-camp begins this Friday, May 11th, and lasts through the 13th. During that time, the team will get their chance to look over the new players and get them adjusted to life in the NFL. Most of this time is spent for mental preparation, having hours on hours in the football-version of a class room. Little of that time is spent actually training, it's more about adjusting.

Just like with most rookie mini-camps, the majority of the players will not have been drafted, and will be fighting for their roster lives. So this mini-camp is especially important for them. Regardless, however, it's hard not to want to see how these players progress, not just in this rookie mini-camp, but in the OTA's and mandatory training camps that will take place in the near future.

A lot of these rookies will face an uphill battle to make the 53 man roster, while others are a guaranteed addition to the team. In the spirit of upcoming graduations, here are a few players that I will be keeping my eye on:

Most Likely to Turn Heads:
This one's tough. Dontari Poe is a giant of a man that can benchpress a Buick ran under a 5 second 40 yard dash. But just like at the combine, blazing speed is always the most impressive thing to watch up close, so I think Devon Wylie, the 4th round draft pick from San Diego State. He ran a 4.39 40 yard dash, one of the fastest at the combine, and since the adage is "you can't coach speed," I'm looking for Wylie to turn some heads this weekend and beyond.

Most Likely to Cause a Surprise Training Camp Cut:
Most of what fans heard after the draft was that Scott Pioli strategically made his selections for depth, with the hope they would develop into starters a year or two down the road. There is one player, however, whose presence might lead to the annual surprise training camp casuality. That player is 2nd round pick Jeff Allen, who is projected as the left guard of the future behind Ryan Lilja. If Allen adjusts to the guard position quickly (he played tackle all his college career), his future could be sooner than Lilja would like. I don't see this happening, but crazier things have.

Most Likely to Be Forced to Stop Tweeting:
It's becoming more and more common for teams to suggest (force) players to either limit their tweets or just get rid of their twitter account altogether. Imagine how long Larry Johnson could have averaged 2 yards per carry with the Chiefs if he hadn't gone and made a full of himself on the social networking sight! While I have yet to follow any of the players for that long of a time (I followed all the players as soon as they were drafted) and from what I've seen, all of them seem to be smart guys with the things they tweet, I am going with Junior Hemingway, 7th round pick from Michigan. This is not because of what he's said on twitter, but just from the massive amounts of tweets he sends out daily. But like I said, none of the Chiefs players have pulled a Larry Johnson from what I can tell.

Most Likely to Make the Practice Squad:
90 players can be invited to training camp; when the season starts, 53 players can be on the active roster. Some players, however, can be on the practice squad and stay with the team that way. While players that are versatile and can play a variety of positions, especially special teams, are the most likely to make it, I've got my eye on Cam Holland, the undrafted center out of North Carolina. Accoridng to CBS Sports, Holland was the 13th best center in last month's draft. He is, however, one of the largest. Weighing 315 lbs., only Peter Konz, the highest center taken in the draft, is larger. Standing 6-2, he's a little short compared to most centers coming out, but with his weight, that shouldn't matter. Holland, maybe because of the lack of depth at the center position on the Chiefs, has a good chance of sticking with the organization once the season gets underway.

Most Likely to Succeed:
This has to go to Dontari Poe. He's the Chiefs first round draft pick, and much like Tyson Jackson, I expect for him to be given every opportunity plus some to succeed in the NFL. Poe will be an immediate starter for the Chiefs, and with head coach Romeo Crennel being invested in his new nose tackle, I expect everybody in the Chiefs organization to make Poe's season and upcoming seasons successful. It's hard to determine the importance of a nose tackle by just looking at their statistics, but I think most fans will be able to tell while watching the game if Poe is getting dominated or not. I hope Poe lives up to the draft slot.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kevin's Boss


It's not something you would know about him if you just followed mainstream sports media. It's not something he typically talks about to reporters - maybe he would if reporters ever asked him, but it rarely ever comes up during interviews. Why would it? Kevin Boss is a football player, and his first duty to fans and to the reporters that follow him is to be the best player that he can be.

To Kevin Boss, however, his first duty lies with that of a higher power - and no, I'm not talking about Scott Pioli.

A week after signing a 3-year, $9 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs - he was released by the Raiders earlier that same week - Boss packed a few suitcases of Chiefs gear, tennis shoes, cleats, and sandals before getting on a plane and flying down Haiti, where he was volunteering for missionary work.

He wasn't alone. "Kevin Boss, who is a good friend of mine, offered me the chance to go to Haiti, and I jumped at it" said Titans linebacker Tim Shaw.

The two players spent a week in Haiti, and Boss worked at a feeding clinic, painted the orphanage and built furniture for the children. According to the article written by Josh Looney from, Boss and Shaw combined to bring more than 100 pairs of tennis shoes with them to Haiti and introduced many of the children to American football for the first time.

"The poverty there is unreal,” Shaw said. “It adjust your perspective and kind of brings you back to what is important, because it is tough to see people living that way.” 

It's not often that you hear about NFL players doing things right during the offseason. In a world of 24/7 news outlets, true personalities and characters of players have come to light more than ever; and unfortunately, it's usually more negative than positive. It's good to see that there are players like Boss and Shaw in the league, players that don't forget what's important no matter how much money they make. 

The way that Boss does it though is what's most impressive. A regular fan would never know that Boss and Shaw did missionary work like this. Besides the occasional article like what was written by Looney and a few tweets sent by Boss once he returned from his trip, nobody might know about the acts Boss partakes in. This quiet selflessness is quite the opposite from, say, Tim Tebow, and in a way, I think that makes it even more special.

Yet, Boss is still a football player, and I can't promise that if Boss were to drop a few touchdown passes and become a liability on the field it would be hard not to forget why I liked him in the first place. But I guarantee you there are a few hundred Haitian children that will never forget the impact Boss and other volunteers had on their lives in the tough times that followed the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

To Boss, that's more important than any game. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jovan Belcher's Vote of Confidence

This time last week, many analysts were predicting Luke Kuechly, ILB from Boston College, to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2012 draft. While many would have loved for that to happen, Kuechly went two slots earlier to the Carolina Panthers with the ninth overall pick. When Kuechly went off the board, I was anxious in awaiting the Chiefs announcement. Dontari Poe, of course, ended up being the selection; but even if Kuechly was on the board at 11, I don't think the Chiefs would have taken him.

The reason I don't think the Chiefs were interested in Kuechly isn't because of the type of player he is, and it's not necessarily because of the type of player Poe is. The reason is because of the position Kuechly plays, and how little need Pioli believes exists at that position.

While ESPN's draft coverage continued to have the ILB position listed as a team need, the Chiefs went all 8 draft picks over the course of three days without selecting one. And, of their 15 undrafted rookie free agent signings the team announced on Monday, only one was an inside linebacker - Dexter Heyman, Louisville.

Not addressing the ILB position last weekend might have concerned some fans, but I interpreted it as a big vote of confidence for the players already on the roster, specifically: Jovan Belcher.

Belcher was an undrafted free agent himself in 2009, coming out of the University of Maine. An a UDFA, it was a longshot that he'd even make the roster that first season. Fast-forward to 2012, and Belcher is an established starter next to Derrick Johnson in the Chiefs defense and Scott Pioli might have given him the biggest vote of confidence of the offseason - at least, the biggest vote of confidence to someone who is scheduled to hit free agency after this season (lookin' at you Dwayne Bowe).

Sure, Pioli did bring in ILB Brandon Siler during free agency last year, but Siler missed the season due to tearing his Achilles in training camp and Belcher went on to have a very solid and productive year - Belcher finished 2011 with 87 tackles.

An upgrade, however, could exist. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chiefs interior defense was the weakest spot for the team, and Belcher didn't help much. He finished with no sacks, no passes defended, no interceptions and just three tackles-for-loss. It was this lack of statistics that caused many analysts to discount the importance of Belcher and project the Chiefs needing to take an ILB to replace Belcher at some point during the draft. What most of those same analysts don't know is most of what Belcher does won't show up in the stat sheet.

As Josh Looney from explained in December of last year, Belcher was Kansas City's "thumper" on defense. Looney went on to explain that as the "Mike" linebacker in the Chiefs 3-4 defense, it was Belcher's duty to handle the "dirty work": the elimination of lead blockers.

"Probably half of my tackles come from Jovan blowing somebody up and I’m scraping over the top,” Derrick Johnson said. “He’s not a selfish guy. He knows what he has to do in this defense to allow certain people to scrape over the top for tackles. Sometimes in the 3-4 defense you have to be a sacrifice guy.”

While Belcher might sacrifice his statistics for the betterment of the team, it does not go unnoticed. Would Kuechly, who could create more pressure up the middle, be an upgrade to Belcher? I believe so; but one of the knocks on Kuechly is that he wasn't great at taking on blockers, something he'd have to do with Chiefs. In other words, Kuechly would make a better Derrick Johnson than a Jovan Belcher. 

I don't think Belcher's job is safe down the road (whose is?). After all, Belcher was a restricted free agent until March 22nd, when he signed his RFA tender, which means 2012 could be his last season with the Chiefs. But I do believe that his job is safe for this season and, if this year's draft was any indication of how Scott Pioli regards Belcher, I have to believe an Andy Studebaker type of extension - 3 years, $5.74 million - will be making it's way to the Thumper this season. 

And it would be well deserved.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Evaluating the Draft: Part 2

This is part 2 in evaluating the Chiefs draft pick-by-pick (here's part 1). While it might not be fair to evaluate the Chiefs recent draft picks before they've even played a snap in the NFL, I think it's important to have a set of expectations for each player to base their future performance on. If we assume all Chiefs players are A's, then we might be disappointed when the sit the bench their first season with the team, and if we think that all picks after the third round aren't important, then we might be shocked when a player emerges that we never suspected would. So, by using this (possibly flawed) reasoning, we shall commence:

4th Round - Devon Wylie
There are two significantly different yet related characteristics when it comes to Wylie. One is that he is very fast - 4.39 40 yard dash fast. It's his speed and his size - Wylie is 5-9 and 186 lbs while Welker measures in at 5-9 and 185 lbs - that get him Wes Welker comparisons often; heck, Wylie is even wearing #83, which is Welker's number as well.

But the difference between Wylie and Welker is the ability to stay healthy. Never mind Welker's torn ACL in 2010, Welker has found a way to stay on the field in his other seasons. That's something that Wylie has struggled with, at least in college. Wylie is a slot receiver, and the usual result of a pass to a slot player is a big hit in the middle of the field. It's almost a guarantee you're going to get hit after catching the ball, the important thing is if you're able to get up after you get knocked down. Wylie doesn't give me much confidence that he can stay healthy, but with his speed, I'd love it if he could

Draft Grade: C+

5th Round - DeQuan Menzie
Menzie played the same position for the same team as Javier Arenas after Arenas's departure in 2010.  Arenas was taken in the 2nd round, Menzie, as you can tell, fell to the 5th round. Menzie, however, also started opposite of Dre Kirkpatrick, who was drafted in the first round.

Menzie is looked upon as a developmental, yet instinctive player, who will be a good player in defensive subpackages that feature a number of defensive backs. Menzie also has decent size, standing 6-0 and weighing 198 lbs. It wasn't long ago that the Chiefs drafted a cornerback in the 5th round and about that same size that turned out to be pretty good (see Carr, Brandon 2008).

Draft Grade: B-

6th Round - Cyrus Gray
The last two drafts, I was wanting the Chiefs to draft a running back late in the draft. The team passed on that option last year, but chose to draft one this year. And that running back was Gray, who is coming off two back-to-back 1,000 rushing yard seasons at Texas A&M, plus catching 30+ passes over those two seasons as well.

Gray's use has yet to be determined, but I think he's going to get his opportunities early on. Jamaal Charles is coming off an injury, and recently required Peyton Hillis, not only being on a one-year deal, dealt with his share of injuries last season as well. And for Dexter McCluster, I'm not entirely convinced the Chiefs have figured out how to use him. With all these factors, Gray might see some playing time this coming season, and a significant amount in the future.

Draft Grade: A-

7th Round - Jerome Long
Long will be fighting for a roster spot as a defensive end in the Chiefs 3-4 defense. Standing 6-5 and weighing 285 lbs., he'll probably be a speed rushing type that the Chiefs bring in on obvious passing downs to get after the passer. He'll probably take Wallace Gilberry's roster spot - who, if you believe Twitter, found out about the Chiefs not retaining him when first round pick, Dontari Poe, tweeted that he'd be #92, the number Gilberry was last season. Ouch.

Draft Grade: C

7th Round - Junior Hemingway
Recently called a "steal" by Mel Kiper of ESPN, Hemingway's biggest test as a wide receiver with the Chiefs is going to be where to fit. With Dwayne Bowe (we'll assume for now that he'll play next season), Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston and now Devon Wylie looking to be the four receivers in set, Hemingway will most likely have to earn his roster spot via special teams. I hope Kiper is right and that Hemingway can help cement a very good receiving corps. After all, he has good size at 6-1 222 lbs., the only issue with a 7th round pick is if he can catch well enough to stick through training camp.

Draft Grade: B