"There are six key positions in a salary-cap world: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, left offensive tackle, pass rusher and cover corner. Fill those spots and you become a contender." -Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
While we wait for signs of life on the Chiefs transaction wire, specifically with the practice squad, I thought it'd be interesting to take a look at what Rick Gosselin, a widely respected football writer, had to say about the key positions on the football field and how they relate to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The reason this statement stuck out to me is because of the last section - becoming a contender. The reason behind the passion of those crying out against Bernard Pollard as well as those insisting we become patient for the long haul are both commenting on a site like this because of a common goal - to see the Chiefs become a contender. There are different ways to build a contender in the NFL but, according to Gosselin, six positions are key. Let's take a closer look at what the Chiefs have at these key positions:
Quarterback: Matt Cassel
There's simply no way to tell yet if the Chiefs have what they hope they do in the promising USC product. Years of benchwarming finally gave way to an unforeseeable season and Scott Pioli liked enough of what he saw last year in New England for Belichick to procure a precious second rounder for him. Early camp struggles and the much-talked-about sprain keep us from knowing what we have on our hands. Some naysayers point to New England's talent at receiver and think anyone could have done it. But the shrewd Pioli should be trusted at this point. I lean toward believing we have something here. But for now, we just can't say.
Running Back: Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles
Verdict: A Conditional Positive
Our first positive comes with a large asterisk beside his name. When healthy and focused, Larry Johnson is a top-tier back in the NFL. He's proven his moxy here in KC so there should be few doubters when it comes to LJ's ability, but that only connects to his on-field presence. Off the field, we're still crossing our fingers for best behavior and, even then, who's to say that LJ won't hit the proverbial wall most RBs hit by the time the rest of the team is ready for their playoff runs. For now, we have our man and Charles is certainly a nice change-of-pace back.
More after the jump:
Wide Receiver: Dwayne Bowe
Some will point to the statistics alone and cry foul over the fact that very few NFL receivers have produced the yards that Bowe has in his first couple of seasons. And I would agree, but it's clear that new head coach Todd Haley believes there's a higher level of play for Bowe to acclimate to and I'm inclined to believe him. Without Tony Gonzalez, Bowe now has the chance to change this verdict to a positive and become one of the NFL's prime wide receivers. And he couldn't be in better hands than Todd Haley's.
Left Offensive Tackle: Branden Albert
Sure, last year was his first, so it's hard to call Albert a "sure thing." But it was clear from the outset that Albert was truly something special, even on draft day and in the combine. And he proved it on the field with a strong rookie season only overshadowed by fellow dynamic rookie Ryan Clady (of Denver). My guess? We'll look back on Branden Albert as one of the best tackles in Kansas City's history.
Pass Rusher: ???
Not a single player makes this list, and that's the sad part. Only two defensive players change the game according to Gosselin's list and the Chiefs lost any semblance of that type of player in Jared Allen. We could have reached for a potential hit at the position in this year's draft, but having to pay "third overall pick" kind of money, you gotta go with a sure thing. Tyson Jackson is an anchor and Alex Magee is nice as well, but the Chiefs don't have a dominating player the other side simply MUST prepare for. And that's the Chiefs Achilles' heel.
Cover Corner: Brandon Flowers
As frustrating the Herm Edwards era was here in KC, last year's draft at least gave us some possibilities for this list. Last year, Flowers displayed fantastic potential after being thrust into the starting line-up in his rookie year and asked to cover each team's greatest receiver. His natural athleticism, leaping ability and intensity will only take him further as he becomes more comfortable deciphering the offense across from him. This is a possible positive, but we need more evidence before declaring this one.