Looking ahead to the draft and free agency I looked through our team and noticed that we don't have a leader on our defense. This is a big reason why our defense has suffered over the years, a lack of leadership. I think Kawika was on his way before we let him go but I can't think of anyone who would meet that description post-Derrick Thomas.
When you look at the top defenses around the league they have a leader (not just a star player but more); Polamalu in Pittsburgh, Lewis in Baltimore, and Bulluck in Tennessee. I'm not a huge fan of any of these teams so they might have a different idea of who their defensive leader is, but when I watch these teams they look to these guys to lead them.
Donnie Edwards was brought in to fill that role but it's hard to be an effective leader when you aren't on the field. I don't see DJ as a leader (although he might still develop into one) and none of the rookies seems to want the role yet. The offense still has Tony and Brian Waters as the veteran leadership that younger players look to and learn from but there isn't a player on our defense that has those qualities or doesn't display them on the field. We drafted Glenn Dorsey and I think a lot of us expect him to become this player one day although it's hard to be a leader of a defense as a rookie. It's not impossible as Patrick Willis proved with the 49ers last year.
So if our defensive leader isn't likely to come from the draft who would be someone that you would want the Chiefs to go after in free agency that meets a team need that would also be a team leader? I checked who would be unrestricted free agents (going after restricted free agents would be a terrible idea for us as we are trying to build through the draft) to see who we would want and if they could be a team leader.
DL - Julius Peppers (most likely franchised), Terrell Suggs (franchised last year could be again)
LB - Karlos Dansby (franchised last year could be again), Bart Scott (Ravens will have to choose between Scott and Suggs if they aren't able to sign either to long term contracts), Ray Lewis
DB - Nnadi Asomugha (franchised last year could be again), Brian Dawkins
Most of these players will end up being franchised but I listed them anyway. I included Dawkins and Lewis because they are obvious leaders but they would be contrary to our youth movement. I wouldn't mind if we signed one of them to a reasonable contract because they are natural leaders and a young team would respond to them. I also included Asomugha in case the Raiders have dug themselves such a big financial hole that they couldn't pay to franchise him. (Unlikely I know.) Who would you want to go after in free agency that could fill our leadership void? Do you agree that there is a leadership void on our defense?